Material Design UI Overhaul In Chrome OS Version 50

A few months ago, we got a sneak peek at how the Chrome web browser would look following a design overhaul to match Google’s Material Design aesthetic. Now, Chrome version 50 has begun to be deployed to a number of platforms, but for Chrome OS users, this milestone release will also see a complete Material Design makeover according to Sebastian Gabriel, a senior designer at Google.

Material Design is Google’s unifying company-wide style guidelines that started to be deployed to the company’s many products starting with Android 5.0 Lollipop. For Chrome users, the design changes are very minimal and the UI will function in mostly the same way, with many of the adjustments being purely visual. On the whole, the UI makes use of more flat colours, doing away with many of the shadows and gradients that used to feature in the UI.

Chrome OS users will be pleased to know the changes aren’t just skin deep, with the update also increasing performance behind the scenes. The Material Design UI is reportedly rendered fully programmatically, which allows a large number of image resource files to be unnecessary and the UI being based on vectors allows it to scale better to super widescreen and other unconventional screen resolutions.

The update to this new version will be automatic for Chrome OS users while users on Windows and Mac may have to wait a little longer for the final version of the Material UI for Chrome. For those willing to give it a try early using Chrome Canary and accessing “Chrome://flags”, where they will find the ability to enable Material Design. As before this is just a preview and users may run into bugs and the UI is still subject to change.

Ubisoft Confirms The Division Will Have Multi GPU Support And More!

Ubisoft has historically struggled to produce optimized PC versions of their major game releases which scale properly across a wide range of hardware configurations. For example, Watch Dogs ran extremely poorly, and didn’t really utilize SLI setups in an effective way. Additionally, it’s difficult to forget the complete mess that is Assassin’s Creed: Unity. As the PC gaming market continues to grow, it seems Ubisoft is finally starting to realize its potential and might just be investing the right resources to create a proper PC release. According to the publisher, The Division will not be a port, and feature a huge array of PC specific features:

  • Flexible user interface: move, scale and adjust the opacity of the HUD.
  • Intuitive controls: navigate easily through the interface, inventory panels and map designed specifically to be used with a mouse or a controller.
  • Full mouse & keyboard support: opt for the high precision mouse and keyboard experience and switch to a controller in the middle of any encounter without interruption.
  • Text chat: team up with more agents of The Division by using the in-game text chat.
  • Optimized graphic settings & customised GPU effects: adjust a vast variety of technology treats, from realistic lighting, shading, snow particles, local reflection, fog volumetric scattering, depth of field and much more…
  • Multi-GPU support: unleash the graphic power of the best computer set ups for jaw-dropping graphics powered by Massive Entertainment’s game engine Snowdrop.
  • Multi-screen support: play with up to three screens for the most immersive and stunning experience of The Division.
  • Multi-resolutions: opt for 1080p or 4k and automatically adapt the resolution to fit multi-screen configurations with FOV correction.
  • Unlocked framerate: let the most powerful computer reach the highest framerate.
  • HBAO+: enjoy the most realistic shadowing, lighting algorithm and ambient occlusion.

While, I’m still fairly cautious given Ubisoft’s chequered past, it’s fantastic to see HBAO+ implementation, multi-GPU support, an unlocked frame-rate, and native support for high resolution monitors. I do wonder if the resolution options extends to 21:9 panels without requiring a UI fix. Clearly, the PC version offers a huge boost in graphical fidelity compared to the current crop of consoles but there’s always suggestions about the visuals being downgraded. Despite this, the screens so far look pretty good, and it will be interesting to see the performance on various setups. Thankfully, I’ve already got my beta access code, and should be able to write-up a technical analysis once the beta officially begins.

Google Hangouts Is Rolling out a New UI and Better Video Quality

Today we found out that Google has announced that they are bringing tweaks to Hangouts. The move is intended to streamline the user interface while at the same time improving the streaming video quality. Users can expect that calls will start faster and stay clearer and crisp throughout the call due to the higher video quality. User controls will be moved down to the middle of the screen at the bottom to give a larger more immersive experience while using the Hangouts app. There will also be a simplified invite system for starting up calls with your family, friends, and business contacts.

The information about the new user experience and improved quality was announced today by Google’s software engineer Eduardo Fernández. Today only a small test group of people will get the update, but over the next few days the update will be rolling out worldwide. Eduardo notes that there is good news for those who hate change, as there will be a setting in the Hangouts menu for “Original version” that will be laid out like what Hangouts currently looks like. This move will definitely be a big win for the users of the app since everyone will love the increased video quality since really, who doesn’t like better video quality? Do you use Google Hangouts or do you prefer Skype or something else?

Valve Improves Dota 2 Reborn and You Can Play the Beta Now

The long wait for Valve’s latest Dota 2 title, Dota 2 Reborn, is now over. Despite the many bugs and features which are not fully functional just yet, fans and curious gamers can now play the beta version alongside Dota 2 on Steam.

Dota 2 Reborn brings a lot of features and improvements to its predecessor, including the Source 2 Engine. What this means is that Dota 2 will have a lot of rendering improvements, performance optimizations, higher fidelity content, and not to mention enhanced physics. Valve says that they will further improve cloth and simulation physics in the future too, but they are still awesome as they are now.

Other improvements can be seen in the UI, having Dota 2 Reborn come with a new and improved interface. Players area able to quickly and efficiently search for matches, stay in touch with their friends through newly added party and chat features, as well as see the what your friends (or enemies) are up to.

Now we all know how frustrating it is to have problems connecting or maintaining a connection to a server sometimes. This is why Valve worked hard to offer more reliable network connections through a new backbone and relay protocol. In addition to the latter, a lot of effort has been put into DDoS protection and we know that is a major problem nowadays.

Last but not least, Custom Games is also a nice addition to the series, having it come with better developer tools for modders. While regular users get to play other modes and maps made by fans, modders get the chance to expand their ideas a bit with new tools. The new Hammer Level Editor lets you quickly prep your map, while the Material, Model and Particle editors help shape it to look how you imagined it to be. Also, Valve now offers better debugging with their new Developer Console.

More details about the latest title can be found on their website here, or if you want to get straight into the action, you can do so by following the steps below:

  1. Install Dota 2 if you haven’t already
  2. Start up Dota 2
  3. Go to the Play tab and select Dota 2 Reborn Beta
  4. Click Install to begin your download

Teen Isolated in the Outback Builds 80’s DOS UI

Not everything has to be about the newest and the best of tech, once in a while a low-tech story comes along that I just love. A teen isolated in the outback of Australia built his own 80’s style DOS user interface with what he had. Following a messy parental divorce, he found himself cut off from the internet and technologic advances. On top of that his mother, who he now lived with, was very strict about what he was allowed to do and not do; not easy times for sure.

He did have a 486 based PC from his dad, but with nothing but a plain DOS installation. So with the help of that and some old books from the public library, he went ahead and created his own OS Interface, or UI, much in the direction of what the first windows versions looked like, and many other user interfaces from that time for that matter.

He dubbed his user interface OSCI (pronounced Aussie), which stood for Operating System Command Interface. With this work of his, he was able to maintain all his files in a much simpler way than through the command interface. But he didn’t stop there and unaware of the technological progress going on, and only hearing bits and pieces here and there, he went on to create his own games and even started on a fake 3D engine called Ray-caster.

I can relate a lot to this teen, or young adult by now, as I’ve been in similar situations. Stuck with an old computer without anything on it and no connection to get anything new. Only thing left is to create it yourself, with whatever tools at your disposal. In this case, it was DOS and QBasic that was used, and that was the same I used for a while when limited to an old 16colour laptop based on a 386 CPU; it’s amazing what you can build with very little.

The good news on top of his not so good years in the outback is that there definitely is a future programmer in him with eyes for things other people might miss. He’s also back in civilization again and has been since 2007, where he’s enjoying the advancements like Half-Life and Half-Life 2. The full story can be read at the source below.

Thanks to fiberbundle for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Imgur

New Xbox App and Cortana Shown in Windows 10 Leak

A new build of Windows 10 has leaked onto the internet today, showing a number of new tweaks and additions, most notably with Cortana and a new Xbox app.

The Verge reports that this build shows off more of Cortana’s interface, as a previous leak only gave us an idea of how it would work, rather than how it would look. The virtual assistant is closely integrated with the OS, offering quick access via the search feature of Windows 10. It apparently works in pretty much the same way it did in that earlier video, however it all looks somewhat more complete.

Another addition in this build is a new Xbox app, which appears to give more comprehensive access to Xbox Live with achievements, the store, friends and more. Think of it like having an Xbox on your desktop, without the ability to play Xbox games.

Besides all that there are some UI tweaks and additions, as well as a new settings app – supposedly signalling the end of the humble Control Panel.

All the preview builds so far have been labelled ‘Technical Preview’ so it’s expected that this build is to resemble the features Microsoft is set to unveil at their recently announced event on January 21, with an increased focus on consumer features instead. After that there will probably be a ‘Consumer Preview’ that will most likely resemble the finished product.

Be sure to visit the source link to see some more screenshots.

Image Credit and Source: The Verge

Warning: Latest HTC Sense Update Reportedly Screws Up Your Smartphone

If you have a HTC and already updated to the HTC Sense Version 6, then you might have already noticed your contacts deleted from both your phone and SIM, leaving the header on your text messages filled with numbers instead of names and your WhatsApp contact list empty. However, if you still haven’t updated to the latest HTC Sense rolled out over the weekend, our advice is to skip it until a fix is available.

Another issue related to the update has been described to be linked to the theme, having it default back to the Green Theme. This might not seem a major issue as you can go into the Settings and change it right back. Not this time apparently, having users reporting that although the theme changes, some loading bars and status messages will still appear in green, having it screw up the user’s preferred theme in some cases.

There have been discussions with HTC Customer Support regarding the ‘failed’ update, where they stated it is already being discussed and investigated. The customer support has also stated that nobody can roll back the smartphone in order to avoid the faulty update, meaning that users who already updated their HTC smartphones to HTC Sense Version 6 can only remain at the mercy of the company and their technical support.

Also, when asked about who was responsible for testing the update, the customer support team has pointed to the developers. This comes as a huge surprise since all software products, especially from big corporations such as HTC, must undergo strict testing cycles performed by a highly qualified Quality Assurance department in order to prevent such issues from occurring. However, HTC might have skipped this step (and we even wonder if they have such a department apparently).

What the HTC Sense 6 should have brought is an updated color palate and multiple themes for the UI, an updated interface and more news sources for the HTC BlinkFeed, an updated and simplified interface for the Camera, Galley and Apps Tray, as well as other features noted on HTC’s page. The company has not released any official news regarding the issues present in the update, nor stated when a fix would be available.

Leaked Images Reveal Upcoming Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo Smartwatches

Having MWC right at our doorstep, a lot of rumors coming from Samsung are mainly focused on the Galaxy S5 handset. Even so, it looks like @evleaks shifts the focus to a more wearable trend, the Galaxy Gear.

Two leaked images have been posted by @evleaks which appear to represent the upcoming ‘Gear 2’ and ‘Gear 2 Neo’, having posted later on some information about the smartwatches dropping the Galaxy brand.

There have been some changes made to the smartwatch design, having an additional button on the front and changing the camera position slightly upwards compared to the original Galaxy Gear. However, the design still looks like Samsung’s near-universal phone and tablet layout.

The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo have slight differences as well, noticeable in the screen frame and camera. Other than that, both appear to have the same similar functional sense. The leaked images present only two versions, in copper-gold and black, however there are bound to be more diversity in terms of colors before they will hit the market.

Looking at the notifications, the UI seems slightly different from its predecessor, both displaying shortcut notifications on the home screen. What is interesting though is the fact that the Gear 2 displays a camera notification icon while the Gear 2 Neo displays only a general notification icon, despite both having cameras at the top of their screen.

If we are to consider that the leaked images are true, the Gear 2 Neo is said to be a cheaper option for customers, presumably due to lower specs and/or feature variety. Looking at the date on their screen, 24th of February, clearly states an official announcement is taking place at the Unpacked 5 event on Monday, having expecting the Galaxy S5 handset to be there as well.

Thank you Android Police for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of @evleaks

Jolla Preps Android Launcher For Its Sailfish OS

Finland-based Jolla have recently announced that their Sailfish Operating System will soon be available as a launcher for Android by hitting their stable 1.0 release. As a quick recap, Sailfish OS is a MeeGo-like operating system, something that Nokia left behind since its release along with the Nokia N9.

Jolla has made its Operating System run native Android apps, something which BlackBerry and Nokia have not been able to do with the BlackBerry 10 and respectively Nokia’s attempt to run Android apps on its Windows Phone handsets. Since a limited release back in November, Jolla claims to have been working on finalising the OS to be fully compatible with Android and state that Sailfish can also work in popular Android-based hardware.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfAixpkzcBQ[/youtube]

Android-powered Samsung, Nexus and Sony handsets are just an example of devices which can work with Jolla as a fully fledged Sailfish OS handset, and not only as a launcher. Aside from the Android compatibility, the OS itself looks very slick, full of gestures and menus tucked just past the edge of the screen. Jolla is also aiming to update the OS every two months thanks to a variety of open source contributors.

Even though the focus is on the software side, Jolla is currently negotiating with partners in Russia, India, and Hong Kong to sell their device in new geographies.

Thank you Android Central for providing us with this information

Firefox Adds Accounts, Improved Sync and Customizable UI To Its Aurora Browser

Mozilla has announced a few extra features to be added to its Firefox Aurora browser. The features consist of Accounts, a customized UI feature that lets users personalize their interface and an improved Sync feature.

The Accounts feature adds something that is already available in Firefox OS, and that is the ability to sync all personal data including bookmarks, opened tabs, history, etc., and load them on every device that has a Firefox browser and is signed in with the account on which the data was synced to.

The improved Synch feature is designed to help Accounts and the ability to securely transfer all your personal data to the various devices synced. The features added consist of a public key cryptography, a BrowserID protocol, client-side key stretching and end-to-end encryption, all of which are designed to prevent user data falling prey to a hacker in case of Firefox servers being compromised. Firefox is said to include these features into Firefox OS later on.

Another feature mentioned, the ability to customize the Firefox UI, is now available to all Mac, Windows and Linux versions, allowing users to remove any browser buttons, add-ons, as well as drag menus, toolbars and tab bars to fit your preferred visual experience.

All of the above features are now available in Firefox Aurora through and update released recently. If you have not updated your Firefox Aurora yet and want to try out any of the features, you can do it now. Alternatively, you can download Firefox Aurora from the official website.

Thank you TheNextWeb for providing us with this information

Leaked Images Reveal Nokia Android-Powered Smartphone UI

A few weeks back, @evleaks released a screenshot of a Nokia handset codenamed Normandy, which was said that will run on a modified version of Android OS. The handset specs were rumored to be fairly mid range, though it remains to be seen what the actual specs will be. However, it appears that we get more insights on the handset’s UI from @evleaks again, with the addition of three more screenshots detailing the UI look.

The device has just one physical button, which looks like a back button. Other than that the user interface will rely on on-screen navigation keys. In the pictures we can see Viber running, Skype running and the lock screen. The phone is a dual SIM according to the icons on the notification bar.

The user interface looks like a cross between the Asha UI and stock Android. To be honest it doesn’t look that bad. Nokia has never been known for their software aesthetic sense, but this looks like a rather impressive attempt. Now we will just have to see if the handset will actually be released.

Thank you Chip Loco for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of @evleaks

Android 4.4.1 Will Reportedly Fix Nexus 5 Camera

Nexus 5 users should be pleased to hear that Android 4.4.1 update should be rolling out shortly and that in addition to speeding up focusing, it will add faster white balancing, less shutter lag, and the ability to pinch-zoom the viewfinder in HDR+ mode. The company also shared a handful of photos showing the difference between normal mode and HDR+ following the update.

Dave Burke, Google’s Director of Engineering for Android, confirmed the news about the camera problems users have been encountering and that the Nexus 5 takes longer to focus than it should. In an effort to produce a higher-quality image, the team opted to “make the shutter time longer, reduce the gain even longer, and get better shots.” This resulted in slower-than-expected shooting speeds, a drawback the next version of Android is aimed at fixing.

Besides the framerate increase, the Nexus 5 will have a speed-up between capturing pictures, reducing the time gap by 1 second. There will also be a progress indicator in the HDR+ mode that makes the mode easier to manage. The update should also fix the Nexus 5’s face unlock bug, where relying on facial recognition to unlock the device would occasionally ruin the camera app until the entire phone was rebooted.

The camera on the Nexus 5 is superb as it is, however the drawbacks have kept it from being the perfect picture-taking gadget. With the new update, owners should soon be able to whip out the handset with more confidence.

Thank you Android Police for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of Android Police

Official Facebook App Available For Windows 8.1 Users

This morning, after Windows 8 users upgraded to the new-look Windows 8.1 update, an official Facebook app was waiting in the revamped Windows Store.

The Windows 8.1 Facebook app is extremely functional, having a three-pane design with your settings, groups, and viewing options on the left, your main news feed front-and-center, and a list of your Friends and their chat availability on the right. The exact look varies slightly depending on the menu you’re on, but the options pane remains consistent on the left side.

Writing something new or uploading a picture coaxes a Charm-style pane to slide in from the right side of the screen, where you’re free to spill your heart’s innermost secrets.

While the look of the app definitely screams “Facebook,” it also oozes Microsoft’s unique modern UI style, with sharp edges and tiles galore. Pinning the app to the side of the screen ditches the side panes to focus on your news feed, with the “three horizontal lines” options button familiar to users of other Facebook mobile apps appearing in the topmost tray. Again, however, the exact look can vary depending on the Snap ratio you use.

Facebook for Windows 8.1 lacks one crucial Microsoft feature however, the Share Charm integration. If you see an interesting tidbit in the modern version of Internet Explorer 11, or any other modern app, you can’t open the Charms bar and seamlessly share it to Facebook. That’s a major disappointment, seeing as how sharing links is such a major part of the Facebook experience.

All in all, however, the Facebook app for Windows 8.1 is a great first showing for the must-have social network, and it fills one of the most gaping holes in the Windows Store’s app selection. Microsoft still has a long way to go before the Windows Store can go toe-to-toe with Android or iOS, but it’s definitely headed in the right direction.

Than you PC World for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of PC World.

New Screenshots Show Xbox One’s DVR Feature And UI

Xbox One is just around the corner, but Microsoft have been pretty quiet about the UI for some time. This has been said to be due to scheduling issues with their public announcements, but there have been plenty of leaked videos and images to keep us entertained, so who cares!

What we can see here actually looks pretty decent, a nice mixture of the tiles that we’ve come to know from Windows 8, Window phone and of course the current Xbox 360 dashboard.

There is certainly a darker theme in play, a mixture of black, grey and bright highlights. All easy to read, fairly linear to navigate and this should make it nice and simple to use with either a controller or of course Kinect.

Phil Harrison took to the stage at the Eurogamer Expo for his panel, showing off these new features of the Xbox One DVR and the UI. This demos the ability to record game play, edit and trim the video, add voice and more video with Kinect, effects and then of course upload the video to Xbox live to share with your friends or the community.

So far so good, lets hope it keeps getting better as we approach release. Enjoy the gallery below.

Thank you DualShockers for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of DualShockers.