Archive for the ‘Tech News’ Category

Surprise! Microsoft jumps to Windows 10

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Via CNET

Forget Windows 9. In an unexpected twist, Microsoft will be going straight to double digits from Windows 8 as it faces a challenging future for its operating system.

SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft just said no to 9. The follow-on to the current Windows 8 operating system will be known as Windows 10.

Originally codenamed Windows Threshold, the new operating system essentially does away with the decency on the tiled “Metro” user interface that Microsoft had attempted to implement across its entire device line, from desktop PCs to Surface tablets and Widows Phone devices. In its place is a combination of the so-called live tiles, present in areas like the new Start Menu, and a more classic Windows experience that aims to please both touch and keyboard-and-mouse users.

Windows 10 is such a substantial leap, according to Microsoft’s executive VP of operating systems, Terry Myerson, that the company decided it would be best to skip over Windows 9, the widely expected name for the next version.

“Windows 10 will run on the broadest amount of devices. A tailored experience for each device,” Myerson said at a press event here Tuesday. “There will be one way to write a universal application, one store, one way for apps to be discovered purchased and updated across all of these devices.”

Those changes found many critics and detractors.

Windows 8.1, released last year, attempted to address those complaints with the revival of core Windows design and usage properties, such as the Start button. Now, with Windows 10, Microsoft is not quite hitting the reset button on touch, but wants to make sure it does not repeat history in its attempt to take Windows forward.

“We believe that, together with the feedback you provide us, we can build a product that all of our customers will love,” Myerson said. “It will be our most open collaborative OS projects ever.”

Taking the stage after Myerson’s introduction was Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of operating systems and the current public face of Windows and Windows Phone design and development. He gave attendees a live demo of an early build of Windows 10. Belfiore, too, put the emphasis on a great leap forward.

“We want all these Windows 7 users to have the sentiment that yesterday they were driving a first-generation Prius,” he said, “and now with Windows 10 it’s like we got them a Tesla.”

Windows 10 combines elements of Windows 8′s forward-thinking design and the familiarity and functionality of Windows 7, still the most popular Microsoft OS. According to Web traffic-tracking firm Net Applications, Windows 7 could be found on 51 percent of desktop PCs in August, compared with just over 13 percent for versions 8 and 8.1 combined.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Oh it’s Microsoft giving up on touch,’” Belfiore said, pointing out the most obvious criticism of the scaled-back Metro interface. “We’re absolutely not giving up on touch. We have a massive number of users who know Windows 7 well and a massive, but smaller, number of people who know Windows 8 well.”

Never Offline? How Apple Is Invading Our Bodies

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Interesting thought piece about Apple’s latest devices from Time.com

Apple Watch Time Magazine Cover 140922

The Silicon Valley giant has redrawn the line that separates our technology and ourselves. That may not be a good thing

The Apple Watch is very personal—“personal” and “intimate” were words that Apple CEO Tim Cook and his colleagues used over and over again when presenting it to the public for the first time. That’s where the watch is likely to change things, because it does something computers aren’t generally supposed to: it lives on your body. It perches on your wrist, like one of Cinderella’s helpful bluebirds. It gets closer than we’re used technology getting. It gets inside your personal bubble. We’re used to technology being safely Other, but the Apple Watch wants to snuggle up and become part of your Self.

This is new, and slightly unnerving. When technologies get adopted as fast as we tend to adopt Apple’s products, there are always unintended consequences. When the iPhone came out it was praised to the skies as a design and engineering marvel, because it is one, but no one really understood what it would be like to have it in our lives. Nobody anticipated the way iPhones exert a constant gravitational tug on our attention. Do I have e-mail? What’s happening on Twitter? Could I get away with playing Tiny Wings at this meeting? When you’re carrying a smartphone, your attention is never entirely undivided.

The reality of living with an iPhone, or any smart, connected device, is that it makes reality feel just that little bit less real. One gets over-connected, to the point where the thoughts and opinions of distant anonymous strangers start to feel more urgent than those of your loved ones who are in the same room as you. One forgets how to be alone and undistracted. Ironically enough experiences don’t feel fully real till you’ve used your phone to make them virtual—tweeted them or tumbled them or Instagrammed them or YouTubed them, and the world has congratulated you for doing so. Smartphones create needs we never had before, and were probably better off without.

The great thing about the Apple Watch is that it’s always there—you don’t even have to take it out of your bag to look at it, the way you would with an iPhone. But unlike an iPhone you can’t put the Apple Watch away either. It’s always with you. During the company’s press event the artist Banksy posted a drawing to his Twitter feed of an iPhone growing roots that strangle and sink into the wrist of the hand holding it. You can see where he was coming from. This is technology establishing a new beachhead. To wear a device as powerful as the Apple Watch makes you ever so slightly post-human.

What might post-humanity be like? The paradox of a wearable device is that it both gives you control and takes it away at the same time. Consider the watch’s fitness applications. They capture all data that your body generates, your heart and activity and so on, gathers it up and stores and returns it to you in a form you can use. Once the development community gets through apping it, there’s no telling what else it might gather. This will change your experience of your body. The wristwatch made the idea of not knowing what time it was seem bizarre; in five years it might seem bizarre not to know how many calories you’ve eaten today, or what your resting heart rate is.

But wearables also ask you to give up control. Your phone will start telling you what you should and shouldn’t eat and how far you should run. It’s going to get in between you and your body and mediate that relationship. Wearables will make your physical self visible to the virtual world in the form of information, an indelible digital body-print, and that information is going to behave like any other information behaves these days. It will be copied and circulated. It will go places you don’t expect. People will use that information to track you and market to you. It will be bought and sold and leaked—imagine a data-spill comparable to the recent iCloud leak, only with Apple Watch data instead of naked selfies.

The Apple Watch represents a redrawing of the map that locates technology in one place and our bodies in another. The line between the two will never be as easy to find again. Once you’re OK with wearing technology, the only way forward is inward: the next product launch after the Apple Watch would logically be the iMplant. If Apple succeeds in legitimizing wearables as a category, it will have successfully established the founding node in a network that could spread throughout our bodies, with Apple setting the standards. Then we’ll really have to decide how much control we want—and what we’re prepared to give up for it.

Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Big-Screen Showdown

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Posted via PCMag

Apple iPhone 6 Plus vs. Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Big-Screen Showdown

BY EUGENE KIM

Samsung may have fired the first shot with the category-defining Galaxy Note, but Apple appears poised with a volley of its own. Now big-screen fans will have an even tougher choice ahead of them—the Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus go on sale this week, though Samsung’s only opening up pre-orders at the moment. The stage is set for showdown of epic proportions. Is bigger better? Can Apple beat Samsung at its own game? Read on for a side-by-side comparison.

Let’s start with the most obvious comparison: size. Though it sports a larger 5.7-inch display, the Galaxy Note 4 isn’t proportionately bigger than the iPhone 6 Plus. The Note 4 is shorter at 5.95 inches to the iPhone’s 6.22 inches, which could factor into pocket friendliness. The iPhone 6 Plus is slightly narrower at 3.06 inches to the Note 4′s 3.09 inches, and generally speaking, the narrower the phone, the more comfortable it is in the hand, but this difference is pretty marginal.

Samsung steps up its build quality game with this generation, framing the Note 4 in a sturdy metal band that should help quiet the plastic haters out there. Still, Apple’s unibody design looks as impressive as ever and continues Apple’s dominance on this front. To Samsung’s credit, the Note 4 retains the removable battery and microSD card expansion that fans have come to expect from the Galaxy line.

Name Apple iPhone 6 Plus Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Editor Rating
Lowest Price
$299.00MSRP
Operating System as Tested iOS 8 Android 4.4
CPU Apple A8 Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 Quad-Core
Dimensions 6.22 by 3.06 by 0.28 inches inches 6.04 by 3.09 by 0.33 inches
Weight 6.07 oz 6.21 oz
Screen Size 5.5 inches 5.7 inches
Screen Type Retina Super AMOLED HD
Screen Resolution 1,920 by 1,080 pixels 2560 by 1440 pixels
Screen Pixels Per Inch 401 ppi 515 ppi
Camera Resolution 8 MP Rear; 1.2 MP Front-Facing 16 MP Rear; 3.7 MP Front-Facing
Video Camera Resolution 1080p 4K, 1080p
NFC Yes Yes
microSD Slot No Yes
Read the Review Read the Review

Apple finally steps into the world of full-HD displays, though it still calls it Retina HD, while Samsung appears one step ahead with its quad-HD panel. That makes for 401ppi for the iPhone 6 Plus and 515ppi for the Note 4. Will you actually notice a difference? Maybe if you have above-average vision, but even that’s a stretch in most situations. The big differentiator here is the screen tech—Samsung’s Super AMOLED panels have been drawing rave reviews since the Galaxy S5, and DisplayMate has already crowned the Note 4′s display as the best yet.

I won’t dive into sheer performance or software—both phones have top-of-the-line processors and run the latest versions of Android and iOS. Some other key differences to keep in mind are stylus support and camera performance. Samsung’s best stylus gets even better with the Note 4, while Apple’s camera prowess is well documented.

This might be the most hotly contested smartphone battle of the year, but we’re reserving final judgment until we can get both supersized handsets into our labs for thorough testing. That shouldn’t stop you readers from chiming in, though, so let us know which phone you’ll be clamoring to grab this fall. I’d say keep it civil, but, well, you know how these things go.

For more, check out PCMag’s hands on with the iPhone 6 Plus and the Galaxy Note 4, as well as our other spec comparisons:

Enabling Do Not Track Is Fast and Easy

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

More good news about personal privacy. Now we’ve made Do Not Track a cinch to activate. You can do it in mere seconds. Check out this fun video, which shows you how to activate Do Not Track on Maxthon 3.

PCWorld Names Maxthon One of the “100 Best Products of 2011”

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Maxthon stands for many things – excellence, innovation and transparency, to name a few – but it most symbolizes the power of community. By uniting people throughout the world, and by inspiring them to share ideas and spread the word about Maxthon, we continue to transform – for the better – the way tens of millions people access the web. And now we can all give ourselves a deserved round of applause, because the editors at PCWorld have named Maxthon as one of the 100 Best Products of 2011.

“Maxthon is for those who want to download a browser and have it include everything you could possibly need out of the box, but still be customizable. Maxthon has that. You can reorganize how it looks, download skins, take away the icons, download add-ons, and so on. No other browser lets you do so much to mess with it. And the fact that it’s got two different rendering engines to choose from doesn’t slow it down at all – it’s a very speedy browser,” says Steve Horton of PCWorld.

Now let’s make 2012 just as exciting and fun!