Xbox One Preview Members to Get First Look at Party and Leaderboard Improvements

Following the November update that brought with it Xbox 360 backwards compatibility, Microsoft has announced that it is bringing more improvements to the Xbox One experience.

The update includes:

  • See who’s in a Party: Xbox One Preview participants will be able to see who’s in a Party before joining. When you view the profile of a friend who is in a Party in the guide, you will now be able to see who else they’re playing with. Click the ‘Chat’ button which appears immediately below the user to jump in and see who is in the Party.
  • Gamerscore Leaderboard: In Xbox One Preview, go to the Achievements section of your profile by clicking ‘View Achievements’ through the sign-in tab of the guide to check out the revived Gamerscore Leaderboard. Through the Gamerscore Leaderboard, see where you stand relative to your friends by comparing total gamerscore, as well as biggest gains over a rolling 30-day period. Click on the Gamerscore Leaderboard to see the full list of all your friends.
  • Re-arrange Pins on Home and access them offline: Many of you have told us that you want Pins on your Xbox One Home to be easier to organize. In Preview, you will now be able to rearrange individual pins. We also made Pins accessible for launching when you are offline.
  • Updating Activity Feed in Xbox One: Your activity feed in Xbox One Preview will inform you when there are new items in your feed. Clicking the link will take you to the top of your feed where you’ll see a run-down of the newest posts, so that you always have the freshest content at your fingertips.
  • Joinable Twitch Broadcasts: You want it to be easier to watch your friend’s game broadcasts. In Preview, Game Hubs as well as the game tile will allow you to easily launch Twitch.tv broadcasts if friends are broadcasting.
  • Improvements to Suggested Friends: Looking for people who you might know on Xbox or top content creators to follow? Check out the new Friend Suggestions area in Community and the Friends list in the Guide on Xbox One. Friend Suggestions include the gamertag, real name (if shared), gamerpic or Xbox Avatar image, and the reason the suggestion was made to you. Click through from the suggestion to view the member’s full profile and choose to grow your friends list.
  • Hide games from ‘ready-to-install’ list: Fans asked that we re-enable the ability to hide content like betas, trials, games, and apps that they no longer want to install. Xbox One Preview members will be able to start using this feature again.

The update, which started rolling out today (19th January), will be available first to Xbox Preview members, then Windows 10 and mobile Xbox Beta app members, before its full release at an undisclosed later date.

Microsoft Promises Regular Xbox One Update Scheldule

The Xbox One has been a roller-coaster ride for Microsoft characterized by u-turns and PR disasters. Clearly, the console market wasn’t prepared for a digital-only future, and always-on DRM. Thankfully, with Phil Spencer at the helm, Microsoft is trying to win back their core gaming audience. The Rare Replay compilation and other lucrative titles like Halo 5 could restore confidence in Microsoft and their renewed focus on the gaming market. Additionally, Microsoft has made a conscious effort to consistently add functionality via dashboard updates and make the Xbox One a more enticing proposition. In an interview with GamingBolt, the head of Xbox’s Indian division, Anshu Mor said about the update schedule:

“They are phenomenally important. Although these are called updates, these are actually features and functionalities that get added every month that makes the box so much more exciting. The Xbox One of today is so much different than the one which was launched and we will continue to make those innovations. It’s all coming from consumer feedback. They want something on the box and we will make every effort to deliver it and those will be delivered through these updates,” 

“At a personal level, I always get excited when there is an update coming. If you are a tech freak you will love updates that adds features, right?”

“I don’t think that from a feature standpoint there has been a disappointment as such but I will like to look more inwardly and ask ourselves whether we have publicized every feature that we have launched. So many of them have come up…so I am not sure whether all consumers understand the portfolio as much. We continue to strive to make sure that they understand it but there has been no particular piece that has been disappointing.”

“And that is what we keep asking [ourselves] whether we have done a good job of explaining at least the key ones to the audiences. We try to do that, hoping that we are at least doing a decent job but that is one area we will continue to focus on and ensuring people understand what they are getting in every update.”

This is great news for Xbox One owners and reassured customers about future updates which helps make their initial investment worthwhile. Although, the install times could be dramatically reduced to improve convenience and create a better user-experience. Clearly, Microsoft is hoping their communicative strategy can restore their leading position in the console market and improve the sales ratio compared to the PlayStation 4.

What feature would you like to see implemented on the Xbox One?

Thank you GamingBolt for providing us with this information.

Amazon Web Services Goes Down Before Getting Up Again

Bit of Tubthumping play on words in the title there, readers who remember the 90s will get this, surely, oh come on I am not that old! Anyway, many web services are intrinsically integrated with each other to bring benefits to consumers, all well and good then right? Yes and no, as having many services which rely on a single destination, whether it be a server or software, provides its own challenges; this includes a domino effect to any technical glitches that would inevitably affect other connected pages.

Yesterday (20th September 2015) there was a problem with a server in Virginia which affected most of the north-east of the US. This glitch in turn killed the infrastructure for many popular products and services including Netflix, Social Flow, Group Me and Amazon Echo among others. The error was described as an “Elevated API Error rates” but has since been resolved to normal operating functionality within the same day.

Any outage in these services for the US giant could lead to a painful financial loss; let’s take a 2013 technical outage as a study example. AWS suffered a similar problem which took services that included Instagram, Airbnb and Vine off-line, it was reported that Amazon accumulated a loss of about $1,100 dollars per second in average net sales.

To keep track of any potential errors there is a handy website by the name of “Amazon web services health dashboard” which publishes up-to-the-minute information on the health of services within four tabs, these are North and South America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. It’s pretty interesting and I have said before that in fact I do have a life, just intertwined with stats and tech that is all.

“Amazon reminds us of the good times
We sing songs that remind us of the best times”  ha!

Thank you status.aws and thenextweb for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of muycloud

Voice Messaging Feature Arrives This April for the Xbox One

Microsoft is planning to get a voice messaging feature up and running on its Xbox One, which is due to arrive with the new firmware this April. Xbox One dashboard preview testers are said to be able to test the new feature this week, having them be the first to leave audio clips in their friends’ inboxes.

An interesting aspect of this feature is that it will allow Xbox One as well as Xbox 360 owners to exchange voice messages. Aside from the latter, Microsoft is said to be adding a new ‘What’s On’ section for the dashboard that would feature games and series tailored to a user’s preferences, as well as providing dedicated servers for users struggling with party chat connections.

Thank you Polygon for providing us with this information

SanDisk Unveils New SanDisk Ultra II Solid State Drive

SanDisk Corporation announced the new SanDisk Ultra II Solid State Drive with enhanced SSD Dashboard. The new drive is designed to deliver a cost-effective and easy upgrade solution for PC owners looking to improve performance, battery life, and power efficiency. The enhanced SSD Dashboard provides visibility into the drive’s performance, security, and available firmware updates, to maintain peak performance at all times.

“We live in an era where we expect to have information at our fingertips any time, anywhere, with technology that keeps us connected to both our personal and work lives on devices that won’t fail,” said Dinesh Bahal, vice president of retail product marketing at SanDisk. “The new SanDisk Ultra II SSD, together with the improved SSD Dashboard, provides consumers with an easy, affordable way to ensure that their PC can keep pace with their increasingly connected, information-driven lifestyle.”

The drive promises up to 28 times the perfomance and up to 15 percent longer battery life compared to a 2½” 7200 RPM HDD. It featurs sequential read speeds of up to 550 MB/s and write speeds of up to 500 MB/s and is based on the X3 NAND Flash technology and comes equipped with nCache 2.0 technology. nCache utilizes a two-tiered caching architecture to optimize drive speed and endurance. The drive is also shock resistant, which keeps data safe even if the computer is bumped or dropped.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”600″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sYEQZ0HWp0[/youtube]

The SanDisk SSD Dashboard comes with 17 different languages to choose from and will displays the drive’s performance, allow for manual or scheduled TRIM, update firmware when available and get tips on how to maintain the drive at its peak operation. It also has support features to get assistance from “Live Chat” and “Ask a Question via Email”. The Sandisk SSD Dashboard has the added value of an included Drive-cloning tool that works in 3 easy steps, Antivirus based on Trend Micro Titanium Antivirus and has theft recovery powered by Absolute LoJack.

“Consumers upgrading their PC for a faster experience with the SanDisk Ultra II SSD want the data migration process to be easy,” said Mike McCandless, vice president of sales and marketing, Apricorn, Inc. “We’re excited to partner with SanDisk to provide the Apricorn EZ Gig cloning software to SanDisk customers for simple data migration from slower hard disk drives. EZ Gig is available either through the new SanDisk SSD Dashboard software suite or within the SanDisk SSD Conversion kit and works with all SanDisk client SSDs.”

The SanDisk Ultra II SSD comes with a 3-year warranty and a rated endurance of 1.75 million hours. It will be available worldwide by Sandisk’s network of authorized distributors and resellers in September. It will be offered in capacities of 120GB (MSRP $79.99), 240GB (MSRP $114.99), 480GB (MSRP $219.99), and 960GB (MSRP $429.99).

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.”

Thank you The Var Guy for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Linux Foundation

Google Services Go Down For 50 Minutes? What Next, The Internet?

Today, Google’s Gmail and Google+ services has been down for roughly 50 minutes. Reports from Europe, Canada, India, United States and other countries confirm that it was a worldwide phenomenon which affected a lot of users, including companies, from big to small.

Whoever tried to access Gmail or Google+ would be greeted with an “Error 500” code, which indicated a temporary problem but not the cause. The 500 code error in browsers represents the service is temporarily out-of-order and points primarily to the server or servers in use. The Google+ outage also has reportedly affected some YouTube comments working on the new system by not loading them when viewing YouTube videos.

Attempting to access the Gmail box through an external client such as Outlook or Thunderbird, or even from your mobile phone, both through POP and IMAP did not help as well. Also, it is said that Google’s Site Reliability Engineering team was also performing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit when the issue started to occur, not exactly the right time to do something like this it seems. We all know what happened next.

Google named it as a “disruption” in its Gmail services and promised to fix it as soon as possible. Well, the services went online for a brief period after the issues started to appear, but went down again, only to start going back online 50 minutes later. Currently, not all services are fully functional worldwide and nobody knows exactly when they will be. You can check the services’ status on Google’s Apps Status Dashboard here. Google officials did not release any more information regarding what caused the outage, and most likely will never comment on the exact cause of the problems.

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

Industry Giants Google And Apple Consider Expanding To The Automobile Industry

The car industry has quickly caught the attention of both Apple and Google. After fiercely competing with each other in smartphone, web browser, and tablet markets, both the companies are now working with leading car manufacturers to develop in-car entertainment and information systems.

Google and German automaker Audi AG are said to be working together on Android based in-car infotainment systems and they plan to announce their partnership at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next week. The Google announcement is being seen as the answer to Apple’s “iOS in the car” initiative, which was launched in June at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). As part of the initiative, Apple is developing technology to integrate iPhones with car’s dashboard control panels. Apple is said to be collaborating with BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Honda Motors for their projects.

In terms of tech features, while Apple is going for the iPhone attachment to the car, Google is taking to a more embedded approach and is working on integrating the Android OS with the car’s dashboard. According to the report, 80 million new cars and light trucks are sold every year. Quite clearly, the market has huge potential and this is the reason Apple and Google are trying hard to penetrate it. The concept of smart cars has also opened the doors for leading chip-makers like Qualcomm, Intel, and Nvidia, to enter the car business.

Thank you Tech Report for providing us with this information