Windows 10 May Be Removing Programs Without Telling You

Windows 10 is designed to be the next step for Microsoft’s operating system, with internet functions built-in alongside apps and new gaming technologies designed to help users make the choice to move that little bit easier. With Windows 10 now a recommended update you would expect that some users would be hopeful of the new operating system, something that may not be the case if it keeps removing programs from your system without telling you.

So the major benefit of the internet is that you can quickly update your system, no longer do you have to wait weeks for the latest security patch or game update as you can quickly update anything you need or download something entirely new within hours or even minutes. It may come as a surprise then with groups like LifeHacker noticing that some programs they have on their system seem to be removed after doing an update. In this case, they found the system information tool Speccy had been removed, giving you only an empty file icon and a question of why?

The current theory is that it is removing outdated apps and drivers when it does an update, a good theory but still one that should worry people. Hopefully, this is not an intentional feature, otherwise, users could soon find their programs and software removed from the system, finding out only days later when they need them the most.

I’ve yet to upgrade to Windows 10 personally, and with “features” like this, I can’t say I will be anytime soon.

Windows 10 DVD Player now Available for a Mere $14.99/£11.59

Microsoft decided to ship Windows 10 without an integrated DVD playback application. Why? Perhaps this was to avoid anti-competition regulations and make sure the operating system doesn’t discriminate against third-party alternatives. Whatever the reasoning, Microsoft’s bizarre pricing is astonishing and quite hard to believe. One could argue the pricing comes from licensing fees, but as a consumer, this isn’t something you should be worried about. To enable DVD playback through their fairly limited software suite, you have to pay $14.99/£11.59. Alternatively, you could download VLC for FREE which adopts an open-source model and comes packed full of features.

VLC is capable of playing videos as a Desktop background, stretching images to a host of aspect ratios and much more. In comparison, the Windows DVD Player is extremely basic and without any customizable controls. According to the App Store,

“Windows DVD Player for Windows 10 makes it easy to watch your favorite DVDs.”

 “Watch both commercial and homemade discs in the DVD-Video format.”

 “This app requires a DVD-capable optical drive.”

Not only that, the paid Windows version cannot play any kind of Blu-Ray discs and could have problems with unusual codecs. VLC is quite adaptable and able to play MKVs, MP4s, VOBs and other video types while adjusting the audio sync. It also supports .SRT and allows for multiple subtitle channels.

Honestly, I’m not sure if Microsoft themselves believes anyone will buy this. The ratings so far are rightfully abysmal and it’s quite insulting to ask so much money for such an inferior product. Additionally, if you don’t like VLC, there’s Media Player Classic, KMPlayer, BSPlayer, and lots more to choose from. If Microsoft want to be perceived as a consumer-friendly company, they need to drop arrogant PR-disasters like this.

Thank you Windows Central for providing us with this information.

Take a Look at a Leaked Version of Cortana for Android

Microsoft announced in May that it will roll out its personal assistant, Cortana, to Android and iOS. As the official launch is getting closer, so are the leaks it seems. Word is that a pre-release version of Cortana has cropped up last weekend on various websites.

It is said that the standalone Cortana app is already running smoothly on devices and is compatible with Android 4.1.2 and later OS versions. There have been some problems with getting it to work on some handsets, but that is bound to happen as it is a leaked version and not the official app. However, you can at least try it out before you decide if you actually want to get it for your Android handset.

People who had a chance to test it out say that it performs “as expected” and if you got a chance to test Windows 10 Preview for PC or Phones, then you most likely are familiar with what Cortana can do on Android or iOS devices too. There are some minor differences, like Cortana not being able to get content from emails or listen for music, but there were bound to be some restrictions in place. Compared to the integrated version on Windows Phones, the standalone Cortana for other OS’ requires permission to get access to pretty much everything, so if you don’t have a way to provide it, the app will not be able to use the external information.

Microsoft plans to launch Cortana for iOS and Android next week. They say it will hit the US, UK, Chinese, French, Italian and Spanish markets at first, followed by Canada and India in the following months and then the rest of the targeted markets by the end of the year. The company chose this approach due to the fact that it also wants to personalize the user interaction with Cortana. For example, the Japanese market will feature Cortana bowing by default to show signs of politeness, while the UK market will house a Cortana that expresses the well-known British humour.

You can download the leaked version of Cortana for Android from APKMirror. I already have a Windows Phone device, so if you have an Android handset and choose to test it out, don’t forget to share your thoughts with a comment below!

Thank you Sci-Tech Today for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of PCkoloji

SSD-Z Utility Tool Version 15.7.11b Update Released

SSD-Z isn’t yet as well-known as other information apps such as GPU-Z and CPU-Z, but it is a great little tool and it just got another update, the first since March. SSD-Z might look like an advanced and long-living app based on its version number, but that is built on the simple numbering of the date when the version was released. It is still in beta and needs more work, but it’s a great start and worth to check out.

SSD-Z is an information tool for Solid State Drives and other disk devices, it will show information about your SSD using a database such as the SSD controller, the processing tech, the NAND type, and more. Other useful information related to disk drives are also shown, such as S.M.A.R.T. status and partition layout. A benchmark function is in the works, but it is still deemed for testing purposes only and not reliable.

This update brings along a newer database that features more drives and information as well as a lot of fixes and improvements. A lot of keyboard shortcuts have been added, but one of the most important features is probably the Submit function. Should some of your drives information be false or it isn’t in the database yet, then you can help out the author and everyone else by submitting your information and help make the next version even better.

If you’d like to try it out yourself, you can find it here.

Changelog for version 15.7.11b

  • The keyboard shortcut modifier to change tabs, was changed from Alt to Control. E.g. [Ctrl + 3].
  • Added keyboard shortcuts to resize the window. Using [Alt + 1, 2, 3, 4] will resize the window to 100%, 150%, 250% or 300%. Last two are width only.
  • New Tab: “Config”. This tab allows for customization of SSD-Z. The Config tab can be opened by pressing [F2] or from the system menu.
  • Settings are now stored in an INI file, in the same folder as the EXE. What’s saved: last active tab, last active device, window position, temperature unit, plus a few other things.
  • The mousewheel can now scroll the visible tabs, if there are too many to fit at once.
  • Partition Tab: The volume list now shows the percentage of free space left.
  • Improved interpretation for certain SMART attributes.
  • Improved several tooltips to be more clear about what the specific field show.
  • Benchmark Tab: Improved the IOPS benchmark by using queue depth.
  • More SSDs have been added to the database.
  • Added support for a few more vendors and their associated logo.
  • Fixed clicking on the temperature field on the device tab to swap unit. This will now properly update the displayed temperature, instead of turning into “n/a”.
  • Partition Tab: Added a column showing if a partition is aligned on a 4k boundry.
  • DevSlp is now listed in the capabilities, for devices that support it.
  • Removed the “-expand” command line parameter. It has been made useless now that the window size is remembered between sessions.
  • Benchmark Tab: Replaced the specific benchmark selection buttons with a drop-down list.
  • Benchmark Tab: The benchmark data is now remembered, even if another benchmark is activated or another device is selected. Only doing a full refresh, [Ctrl + F5] or bottom left button, will clear benchmark data.
  • Benchmark Tab: Some benchmarks can now be aborted when running. This is just a temporary fix until the benchmarks are properly threaded.
  • Added a keyboard shortcut [F4] to activate the previously selected tab.
  • SMART Tab: The attribute name of the selected item can now be copied to the clipboard using [Ctrl + C] or by double clicking the attribute.
  • Added “system.stay_on_top” option to make SSD-Z stay on top.
  • Identify Tab: Many words now displays a description of what each individual bit means.
  • Added debugging option “system.enum_scsi_debug”. When enabled, “\\.\ScsiX:” devices will be enumerated.
  • New Tab: “Submit”. Here you can submit your SSD to the TechPowerUp database. Having access to the submitted information of many SSDs will help improve future versions.
  • Increased the default window width, to accommodate the increased number of tabs.

BitTorrent Wants to Offer More P2P Freedom on Mobile Devices With New App

BitTorrent just announced a new mobile app named Shoot that is based around P2P connectivity between individuals. While this sounds good to some people, others may think that this is a new means to start a piracy war on mobile devices. I mean, come on? Secure Peer-to-Peer connectivity on mobile devices and BitTorrent? What’s next, The Mobile Bay?

The company may have good intentions for releasing their new Shoot app to anyone looking to transfer photos and some big videos on the go, but I’m fairly sure the app will not be used exactly for what they have in mind. BitTorrent Shoot is said to be based on their Sync technology already available on all major mobile devices.

“Shoot allows you to send photos or videos directly between mobile devices, no matter what device you use or what network you’re on. Based on BitTorrent Sync technology, large items are no problem. And since files move directly between people without going through the cloud, it’s all fully private to you and the recipient.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOaOycHcNO0

BitTorrent Shoot is available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone and allows 3 sends for free. If you like to send more, you have to couch up $1.99. A good thing about it is that you can receive an unlimited number of files, even if you haven’t bought it. So what do you think? Is it really worth its price?

Image courtesy of BitTorrent

Microsoft Wants to Port Everything to Windows

Microsoft has long been suffering from a deficit of Windows Phone applications. In a major move at Build 2015, Redmond announced two separate projects to target Android and iOS applications and allow them to run on or be ported to Windows.

Targetting iOS applications, Project Islandwood is aimed at easier porting and integration of Objective C. Using this middleware, Project Islandwood is able to provide the APIs that the iOS applications expect. This allows apps to be easily ported with minimal work and recompiling. One of the notable examples is King and their popular game Candy Crush Saga which only had be tweaked a bit to run on Windows. Since the app is now compiled for Windows, it can run on anything from Windows Phone/Mobile to full on Windows 10.

On the Android side of things, there is Project Astoria. Astoria exists as a runtime layer between Windows and the application, allowing any old APK to run without modifications or being recompiled. This runtime layer is limited to Windows Mobile/Phone only however so desktop Windows 10 users are out of luck. Applications relying on Google Mobile services which are closed source APIs will are not work without modification.

Microsoft has been taking their app deficiency seriously as both Windows Phone and Windows RT have suffered from low numbers. Whether or not easy porting and a more unified customer base can attract developers remains to be seen.

Google Lets You Manage Its Cloud Platform from Your Smartphone

Google appears to be testing a beta console version for Android smartphones and tablets that helps its customers monitor services in the cloud while commuting between places. The company states that a Cloud Console for Apple’s iOS will be expected to be released later this year as well.

The app is said to let users set up alerts, manage Google cloud platform resources and access health graphs to gain insights into the performance and availability of their cloud-powered applications on Google’s Cloud Monitoring feature. The console is also said to integrate with Cloud Monitoring to enable automated incident tracking when system metrics deviate.

One example of how the app works is generating alerts about Google Compute Engine instances when the expected load exceeds 50% CPU for one hour, should the users set an alert with the latter condition.

“When investigating an issue, you often need to check the health and properties of your resources, such as running state, zone or IP,” Michael Thomsen, product manager at Google, stated.

Users are said to be able to also do a number of core operations such as changing the App Engine version or starting or stopping a Compute Engine instance, having the App Engine be Google’s platform-as-a-service for running applications. For those interested in the application, it is currently available on the Google Store and accessible from here.

Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information

SDD-Z Utility Tool Upgraded to Version 15.03.15b

Most people know CPU-Z and GPU-Z, but SSD-Z might still be relatively unknown. It is however a very useful utility and the new tool just got another upgrade to version 15.03.15b, but it still resides as a beta version. The new version brings along a list of bugfixes as well as a long list of new supported drives.

SSD-Z does what a lot of other apps also do, but in a familiar look as well as doing more than most apps. It can show you all your drives relevant information including what NAND is used, the controller, firmware and features. SMART and partition information are also available and so is a benchmark function. The benchmark function is still being developed, but it’s a great start. It will give you relevant information such as access times as well as random and sequential performance figures.

Main Features

  • Details of the controller and processing tech of NAND chips (for known devices).
  • Verify that TRIM is enabled for your system and SSDs.
  • S.M.A.R.T. status and full list of all the device’s available attributes.
  • List of all partitions. Including hidden, unmapped and boot partitions.
  • Benchmark IOPS, transfer speed and random access time (work in progress)
  • View the raw device identify data words.

Changelog

  • The current user locale is now used to determine if Celcius or Fahrenheit should be used to display the temperature. If you wish to switch, click on the temperature panel on the device tab.
  • The program is now DPI aware, meaning that using a DPI other than 100%, will scale the interface accordingly. This may require a little more tweaking.
  • Many more devices have been added.
  • Better SMART attribute interpretation based on the SSD controller.
  • The minor ATA version is now reported in the ATA Standard tooltip.
  • The actual model name is now shown in the program title. For most drives, this is different than the model name reported by the device itself. If an SSD is not in the internal database, no name will not appear in the program title.
  • Fixed Kingston devices from being detected properly.
  • Fixed an issue where “Samsung 840 PRO” would be detected as “Samsung 840”.

Thanks to Aezay for providing us with this information

PayPal Offering £3 to Spend on Google Play Store in the UK

PayPal seems to be offering £3 as a Coupon Code for customers to spend on Google Play Store. All you have to do is open the promo offer page here, save the offer and have it added to your PayPal account, then go to the Google Play Store and make a purchase using PayPal as the payment method at check out.

“When a participating Eligible Customer pays with PayPal for a purchase on the UK Google Play store during the Promotional Period (“Qualifying Payment”), PayPal shall credit the Eligible Customer’s PayPal account with the amount of the Qualifying Payment up to a maximum of GBP 3.00 per Eligible Customer in total.”

PayPal isn’t known to offer free money out, but this might be your chance to spend some on that application you were so eager to buy for a long time. So if you are an Android user, this might be your chance to get it for free.

Thank you Android Police for providing us with this information

Apple Patent Details Home Button Joystick

Interesting Apple patent applications seem to pop up every other day. Today is no exception. A new application seen by Patently Apple shows a rather clever way of transforming the humble home button into a gaming joystick.

Using a simple pressure click of the home button, the joystick pops up out of the iPhone’s body. As Apple points out in the application, this would allow greater control over iOS games, allowing players access to a physical input rather than touch buttons on the screen. While there are indeed controllers and other gaming accessories for iOS devices, this would be the most convenient and portable solution.

This is one of many unique patent applications by Apple. Recently we’ve seen weight-shifting mechanisms to protect falling devices, smoke detectors and just yesterday a patent for a GoPro-like camera that got investors into a panic.

While this is a very interesting and perhaps lucrative idea, many of the company’s patents rarely get their way into future products. For this one however, there’s no doubt many people wouldn’t mind seeing this on their future iPhone.

Source: Patently Apple Via: MacRumors  

Man Builds Own Remote Control for Google Chrome

Jeff Bower decided that Google’s Chromecast accessory needed an upgrade, so he decided to go ahead and make his own remote control for this streaming USB device.

His remote was designed through a Raspberry Pi model B architecture, connecting it to a case and buttons. According to our sources, the total costing of this unit was around $55 US. with the programming being completed through the help of Pychromecast, which is a development kit designed for the Chromecast and Raspberry Pi technology.

According to reports, this unit functioned well with Chromecast apps such as Google Play movie store – with Bower stating that unfortunately the remote didn’t function correctly with third-party apps.

Bower discussed his build and findings on his personal Google+ page, commenting on facets of development and Netflix compatibility:

“When I tested against Google Play and Plex content (the majority of my viewing) it worked great, but as I dug deeper into the implementation I realized that Plex only works because of a custom file describing the commands (Plex is nice like that). Netflix is another story entirely, there doesn’t seem to be anything in the clear that can be captured and they’ve got a habit of locking out third party controls.”

Image courtesy of BGR and ebower.

Twitter Users Beware: It’s Now Tracking Other Apps Installed

Twitter has just announced that it is now tracking other apps that its users have installed, therefore allowing ads to be more directly targeted to all.

This change will reportedly see users receive a notification when the setting is turned on, allowing you to opt out of this service through your phone settings. If you’re using an iOS device, this option is named “limit ad tracking”, whereas Android phones have it listed as “opt out of interest-based ads”.

This change is reportedly only tracking lists of apps that users have installed, not any data within these applications. It also will not collect the app lists from people who have previously turned off this targeting update.

Obviously, users are outraged at this change – claiming multiple privacy issues among other things.

What are your thoughts on this subject? We’ve already seen many change occur with applications publicly claiming and being rumored to track users data, applications and information. This is yet another step in that direction.

Image and information courtesy of News.com.au

Apple Finally Letting Users De-Register iMessage Account

Apple has just announced their new website, enabling users to de-register their iMessage service – helping users unbind their telephone numbers from the Apple-only offering.

This website has been developed to solve the issue of when a user stops using their iPhone and switches to another device, their registered iMessage number may conflict with the new messages they wish to send to their friends through their updated device. The “Deresgister iMessage” website provides a step by step guide on how to log off the iMessage service and allows them to enter their new information on the website – sending them a confirmation message to lift the iMessage binding.

Previously there were reports of users deactivating their iPhone only to have their iMessage account stay bound to their phone number against their will – these reports range all the way back to 2011 when Apple first released the iMessage platform. Since the beginning of 2014, Apple had promised they would provide a simplistic way to opt-out of this service, taking them a rather long 11 months to process to completion.

When comparing this to Google Hangouts or Blackberry’s BBM offerings, it’s quite different. iMessage is only applicable to Apple devices (including ‘Face Time’), where as hangouts and BBM operate through third-party app software to be used in different technologies.

Although quite late to the game, it’s good to see that Apple has fixed one of their niggling issues.

Image courtesy of Chiphell

ASUS Debut Windows Laptop for $179 US

Quite often University or High School students are looking for a simple solution to type up their reports and complete various simple processing tasks to get them through the day-to-day grind.

ASUS have replied with their sub-$200 category laptop, the X205TA Signature Edition. Coming in at $179 US on the Microsoft stores (lower than the $199 announced RRP), this laptop should complete the task with ease.

Coming complete with Windows 8.1 displayed on an 11.6-inch panel at 1366×768 resolution, the Signature Edition utlizes Intel’s Z3735F Quad-Core processor running at 1.33 GHz. There’s also the standard turbo options up to 1.83 Ghz available and comes with a handy secondary cache of 2 MB. The laptop functions through 2GB of DDR3-1333 memory, built in eMMC storage and an expandable microSD card slot.

Given all of the specifications above and the overall look and ‘feel’ of the product, it seems that it will be $179 well-spent. We’d like to see it included with a little more ram however, as windows 8.1 might start to chug when running on only 2GB.

As for accessory and connection options, this model comes with two USB 2.0 ports, a 480p webcam, a combined audio and microphone port, HDMI output, 802.11n WiFi and Blutooth 4.0. Measuring at a total 11.25 x 7.61 x 0.68 inches at a weight of 2.11 pounds (0.96kg), this laptop will be small and light enough to carry around for days on end around campus.

This system is listed not only in the Microsoft shop, seeing an addition to the Amazon online store also.

Images courtesy of Chiphell

Apple Alter their Health App Privacy Policy

Apple has recently changed it’s privacy guidelines for developers wishing to utilize its own HealthKit framework. Some are taking this change as another sign that Apple’s iWatch release may be coming sooner rather than later. This update addresses how health apps handle user data when developed through HealthKit.

HealthKit is set for release with iOS8, being quoted on the official site as “An entirely new way to use your health and fitness information.” This service will act as a hub for all data tracked by third-party fitness and health applications – with this information then being passed to Apple’s Health App. The Health App analyzes and breaked down the data, presenting it to you in an easy to read format.

Mashable helped us understand what these new guidelines entail:

“…developers can’t “sell an end-user’s health information collected through the HealthKit API to advertising platforms, data brokers or information resellers,” developers can’t “sell an end-user’s health information collected through the HealthKit API to advertising platforms, data brokers or information resellers,” according to the report. What’s more, developers cannot use HealthKit’s API or its information “for any purpose other than providing health and/or fitness services.”

Once again, this privacy policy is being linked to the so-called impending release of the iWatch. HealthKit and the Health app are said to be a big part of the smartwatches functionality, acting as a ‘middle man’ to tie everything together – apps, phones, watches and services. As competitor products such as Fitbit and Jawbone are becoming a much more popular addition any ‘fitness freaks’ arsenal, it’s only logical that Apple want a part of this market share.

Alongside the growth of fitness technology devices themselves, Flurry Insights reported that fitness applications are growing 87% faster than any other app available on the store – alongside a massive 117% growth of apps downloaded as a whole.

Image courtesy of Tech Crunch

GBA4iOS Deemed As The Best Game Boy Advanced Emulator for Apple’s Smartphones

It’s hard to find an original Game Boy nowadays or even buy games for it from a handful of 3DS eShops that still survived up until today. Game Boy fans have to resort to emulators in order to play their favourite old titles.

Smartphones appear to have become the best emulation alternatives in order to get that Super Mario Land game loaded and play it on-the-go due to the low hardware requirements needed to actually simulate the Game Boy and the game itself.

Up until now, Android users were able to emulate these games on their mobile devices. The Play Store has a variety of emulators, granting its customers a large list of applications to choose from. However, Apple has not been too kind when it comes to emulators, having them restricted from its AppStore.

Up until now, two Game Boy iOS emulators by the name of gpSPhone and GBA.emu were available and limited only to jailbroken devices, having them as the only options available for the platform at hand. GBA4iOS, developer Riley Testut’s creation, however aims to be a more simple and easy solution to iOS emulators. It is said to use a loophole in Apple’s app installation system, having the user set the smartphone’s date back one day. The app can be directly downloaded via the GBA4iOS website and the best part is that the app is free!

Besides the above mentioned, the app is said to be the best GBA emulator on any platform, having full support for Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy support, accelerated speed, multiple and locked save states, as well as customizable skins and Dropbox syncing for saves between multiple devices. It is said to even use some iOS features as well, such as AirDrop and the MFI Bluetooth controllers.

The app does however have some flaws. For example, it does not have any advanced emulation features such as video and sound filters. There is also word of a 2.1 update scheduled to be released at the end of the summer, which promises multiplayer support via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct.

THank you The Verge for providing us with this information

Android’s “Fake ID” Issue Could Allow Hackers to Steal Data from Millions of Devices

A security company by the name of Bluebox Security has been throwing warning out there in regards to a major flaw in Android operating systems that would potentially allow hackers to steal sensitive information from millions of devices without the user noticing it.

The company stated that the most affected users would be the ones owning an old Android handset that stopped receiving software updates. However, Android users should note that not all Android users are affected by the flaw at hand.

The “Fake ID” vulnerability, as Bluebox describes it, consists of the way the Android operating system processes the digital signature identities attached to apps from various vendors. The OS is said to be configured to automatically accept Adobe apps for example, or other vendors including the device management outfit 3LM. In addition, some apps bearing the latter vendor signatures can automatically plug into other apps in ways other apps cannot.

What is more worrying is that since Android 2.1, the Android package installer is said not to have properly checked the identity certificates, therefore apps claiming to come from trusted vendors could eventually end up being from another ‘vendor’.

“For example, an attacker can create a new digital identity certificate, forge a claim that the identity certificate was issued by Adobe Systems, and sign an application with a certificate chain that contains a malicious identity certificate and the Adobe Systems certificate. Upon installation, the Android package installer will not verify the claim of the malicious identity certificate, and create a package signature that contains… both certificates. This, in turn, tricks the certificate-checking code in the webview plugin manager (who explicitly checks the chain for the Adobe certificate) and allows the application to be granted the special webview plugin privilege given to Adobe Systems – leading to a sandbox escape and insertion of malicious code, in the form of a webview plugin, into other applications.” a Bluebox expert stated.

This way, hackers could have easily impersonate a 3LM signature and allow malware to take control of many devices, functions and apps, including Google Wallet features. Bluebox is stated to have notified Google of the security breach back in April.

However, up until now, Motorola is stated to have rolled out a patch for some of its devices. The experts say that there is no recorded breach of security using the above technique. Even so, a good practice is to only allow app installations from trusted sources and be weary of schemes that try to install specific ‘dodgy’ applications.

Thank you Gigaom for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Gigaom

YO App Used for Notifying People About Missile Strikes in Israel

Increasingly popular social media application, Yo, the application which lets you say ‘YO’ to another friend may seem ridiculous to some smartphone users, but in fact it is apparently used for more complicated things than just ‘yo-ing’ around.

The Times of Israel apparently has stated that some developers are now using Yo as a means of notifying people when terrorist attacks are happening in the country. It is said that the notification will be triggered on all devices using the Yo app and are subscribed to the Red Alert: Israel group.

For those who use Red Alert to stay notifying of such activities probably know that the group even has their own standalone application which sends more detailed push notification about the same type of terrorism activities happening in the country.

Though this may seem useless given that a standalone app for Red Alert exists, it might not be for some users if other countries. The Red Alert standalone application is said to work only when you are in Israel, having a limited audience. With its partnership with the Yo application, users can now receive push notifications outside the Israeli borders, having friends and family abroad notified immediately as on the Red Alert app.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information

Numenta Releases Gork, The First App to Work Similar to a Human Brain

A Redwood City, Californian-based startup company by the name of Numenta has apparently held a conference to show off their achievement, which is a piece of software mimicking the processing power of a human brain.

The company, started by Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky nine years ago, has set out to achieve an algorithm that would process information like a normal human brain. The company is said to have already shipped its first product, Gork, a piece of software that would detect unusual patterns in information technology systems. By detecting these anomalies in a computer server early, the company states it would help avoid further problems while also saving a lot of time in manually finding and fixing them.

Their first application may seem strange at first, but it fits the description of what the human brain is good at, meaning pattern recognition. It is said that the company built its architecture on Hawkins’ theory of Hierarchical Temporal Memory, having the brain store data in time sequences. This is easily noticeable by the fact that we quickly remember the words and music of a song. This theory has apparently become the foundation for Numenta’s code base, bearing the name of Cortical Learning Algorithm (CLA), which the company intends to use in future applications as well.

Hawkins and Dubinsky have stated at the company’s conference that they are even more excited about new applications based on the CLA code, having already started ‘deeper’ conversations with potential partners about how to use the technology. What would we expect from such a code in the future? Your guess is as good as ours.

Thank you Venture Beat for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Venture Beat

Huawei Reported To Be Selling High-End Smartphones Via Messaging App

The increased competition of smartphone manufacturers in China has apparently resulted in companies approaching unique marketing techniques. For example, Xiaomi is said to have success with its ‘Hunger Marketing’ technique, having customers pre-register their interest in a handset in order to grab the e-mail addresses of potential buyers. As soon as the particular handset hits the spotlight, a limited number is manufactured and sold. This is how the company recently sold an estimated 10,000 Xiaomi Redmi Note phablets in less than a second.

Networking and telecom manufacturer Huawei apparently has its own tactics. Sources indicate that the company is apparently using popular messaging application WeChat as a channel to sell its Huawei Honor 6 handset. The device is said to boast an Octa-Core processor, a 5-inch display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920, as well as a 13 MP back camera and 5MP front camera.

The company previously used only local carriers to sell its handsets, but due to the increased competition, it is hoping to widen the distribution of its products using the WeChat app. The application, which is said to be in partnership with Chinese e-commerce company JD, has apparently hosted a competition in which the lucky winner was awarded with a Huawei Honor 6. The rules appeared to have been simple as well, having competitors guess the price of the handset in question. The winner would have had to answer ¥1999 / $322, the actual price of the Huawei Honor 6 handset.

Huawei is said to have 8% of the Chinese market, placing it on the 6th position in the country. This is due to change in the future, providing that the partnership between the company and WeChat app is successful. WeChat is said to have over 400 million users, having it be used as a text and voice messaging app, a gaming app and even a cab hailing app. Reports show that an update last year has even added a payment system, something which Huawei is attempting to exploit. Also, Huawei might have been the first to use this type of marketing camping, but it most certainly will not be the last.

Thank you Phonearena for providing us with this information

Linux Heading to Open Source Cars, Releasing Automotive Grande Linux Distribution

Open source operating system Linux has apparently shifter its focus towards a new sphere, leaving the real of desktops, notebooks, and even smartphones, having targeting the automobile market. A new Linux distribution by the name of Automotive Grande Linux has reportedly been released this week, being dedicated towards cars in an attempt to bring a new open source solution to the technologically advanced era we live in.

It is said that AGL, in collaboration with and sponsored by the Linux Foundation, brings together a host of partners from the automotive industry, communications, computing hardware, academia, as well as other sectors. The first release has been stated to have launched on June the 30th, having to bring a solution for a wide range of products, from cars, to laptops, TVs and even smartphones. The distribution is said to be based on Tizen IVI and is available for free here.

The first AGL release is said to have support for a limited series of features, specifically designed for deployment in cars and other vehicles. The features consist of Home Screens, Dashboards, Google Maps, HVACs, Media Playback, News Readers in the shape of an app carousel, Audio Controls, Bluetooth Phone support and even Smart Device Link Integration. Participants in the AGL project and the Linux Foundation hope that this initiative will help future ‘connected’ cars run on open source software in order to deliver the next generation of entertainment, navigation and other similar tools for use inside vehicles.

“Openness and collaboration are key to accelerating the development of a common, standard automotive platform so the industry can more quickly achieve its vision of delivering the connected car,” said Dan Cauchy, General Manager of Automotive, The Linux Foundation.

The GM also added that the Linux Foundation expects AGL development to continue steadily after its first release, having to introduce “a number of additional capabilities and features in subsequent releases.”

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Image courtesy of Linux Foundation

Microsoft Office Reportedly Heading for Android Tablets

Microsoft has launched its Office product for the iPad earlier this year, having it be a stripped-down version of the actual Microsoft Office for desktop, designed specifically for the iPad. It apparently has been released ahead of Microsoft’s own Windows tablets, which is a little ironic.

Rumor now has it that the Android version of Office is nearly here, having Android tablet users be able to benefit from Microsoft’s product by the end of the year. The Android version is said to be similar to the iPad version, having users with an Office 365 subscription able to use it. Microsoft is apparently looking for private beta testers, having companies to individuals given an equal chance to sign up for the beta program over at Microsoft’s SharePoint website.

This information points to the Android version of Office being released ahead of the Windows version as well. Though this might sound as a ‘failure’ for the company, it could be a big thing financial-wise. This is because iOS and Android are currently ahead of Microsoft’s mobile OS, and thus have more potential in drawing companies and individual users to benefit from Microsoft’s product. Also, this move can further improve Microsoft’s final version of Office for Windows tablets, having it releasing a more stable and bug-free product for its own OS.

Microsoft is said to be releasing the Office product for its own devices later on in 2015. Until then, Android tablet users can sign up to experience the Office product on their own devices through the beta program.

Thank you Ubergizmo for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Ubergizmo

Facebook Outage Lasts Around 30 Minutes, Prevents Millions of Users from Connecting

The popular social media network known as Facebook appears to have been down for most users today. Reports were coming in from Europe, with countries such as Belgium, UK, France, Romania and others, as well as other countries from Asia and possibly the US.

Facebook users wanting to connect to the social media website or mobile applications such as the Facebook or Facebook Messenger application have noticed that the service was down and a “Connecting” notification constantly being present, indicating that the applications were attempting to reach Facebook’s servers, but were unable to do so.

Users wanting to connect to the website version were greeted with the following message:

Reports started to come in a few minutes after the outage, which appears to have started occurring at 08:50 UK time. Hundreds or even millions of users who noticed the outage started tweeting on about it, generating a small worldwide panic. However, questions regarding the cause of the outage is still unknown.

After roughly 30 minus, the service appears to have been resorted. Even so, users are still awaiting an explanation for today’s outage from Facebook officials. Until now, no official announcement regarding the cause of the outage has been made.

Update:
I appears that TechCrunch have contacted Facebook to shed some light on what exactly happened that took the network down worldwide. A Facebook spokesperson apparently told TechCrunch that they have experienced an ‘issue’ which led to the worldwide outage, without going into more details about what the ‘issue’ was exactly. The full statement can be seen below:

“Earlier this morning, we experienced an issue that prevented people from posting to Facebook for a brief period of time. We resolved the issue quickly, and we are now back to 100%. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

Kickstarter Projects Aims To Make Voice-Controlled Houses a Reality

There are all sorts of smart devices on the market, giving users the ability to control just about anything in your house and even your car, at least to some extent. However, in most cases, the user experience is not as satisfying as it should be when using the latter devices.

A Kickstarter project is aiming to solve this barrier through a project called Homey. The device bearing the same name is nothing more than an orb measuring 4.3″ in diameter, but the developers hope that it could become the next big thing in terms of smart homes.

Homey is thought to be a device with multiple connectivity inputs, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, ZigBee and Z-Wave, as well as Infrared, which can control almost anything in the house with the help of voice commands. Homey is connected to a Raspberry Pi Computer Module, running on custom software, and also features a companion app for iOS and Android devices, which grants users the ability to easily customise Homey’s settings. The device is also designed to give visual feedbacks on commands with the help of its multi-coloured LED ring placed in the middle.

Emile Nijssen, the creator of Homey, has been inspired by the Star Trek series when designing the device at hand, having users relying ultimately on voice in order to control their home. In addition to the above, Homey gives developers the opportunity to build applications which are then published to the device’s Labs section.

The project is hoping to raise €100,000 through crowdfunding on Kickstarter in order to begin production. The current estimated amount raised is €95,000 and there is no doubt about the project being funded. The lowest amount which individuals can pledge for a Homey device is reported to be €229, having its estimated delivery set in June 2015.

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Image courtesy of Ubergizmo

Mobile Phones Could Connect to Public Wi-Fi Automatically in The Near Future

Whenever you are in a metropolitan area, having lots of shops, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. most likely means free Wi-Fi. The only big downside is the endless process of connecting to it. Apparently Google is looking to simplify this process with an app that automatically authenticates the user whenever a free Wi-Fi is available.

Reports say that Google has already begun the takeover of Starbucks franchises all around the US by replacing AT&T as the official Wi-Fi provider inside the coffee shop franchise stores. However, logging into Google’s network will still require authentication.

Google has thought of this impediment and came up with the idea of developing an app which can retain the Google account information between session and logging the user in automatically once the smarthpone detects a hotspot. The app is said to be released for both iOS and Android platforms, having no news on whether or not they will consider the Windows Phone 8 or 8.1 platform at the moment.

Even so, the app is still in the development stages and might not even be released. Though, the idea is pretty interesting and useful since people spend a lot of time attempting to connect to free wireless connections.

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Facebook Will Buy WhatsApp For $16 Billion In Cash and Shares

Recent news point to Facebook engaging into an agreement to purchase the popular mobile messaging app, WhatsApp, for $16 billion in cash and stocks. The Verge states that a SEC document filed recently confirms the purchase agreement.

The same plan of action was filed with the pruchase of Instagram as well, that being the ability of WhatsApp operating as an independent messaging application and not integrated into Facebook’s Messenger, stating that the purchase will accelerate Facebook’s aim to bring socializing and connectivity all around the world.

“WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable.” said Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. “WhatsApp will complement our existing chat and messaging services to provide new tools for our community.” he added.

Statistics report showing around 450 million people accessing the WhatsApp application each month, having 70 percent of the total amount of users active each day. The changes will also bring WhatsApp’s CEO Jan Koum to Facebook’s board of directors. Koum also assured users that the deal will not affect the app’s usability by adding advertising principles, as “there would have been no partnership between our two companies if we had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product”.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information