Tag Archives: software

Microsoft aims to break down language barriers with Skype Translator

We’re living in the future, folks, in case you didn’t know. This week Microsoft is leading the charge in breaking down language barriers with its Skype Translator. Essentially, the new software allows Skype users to translate their conversations into another language in real-time. A perfect example of it in use is featured in the saccharine clip posted above. Students in America are video chatting peers in Mexico City; when an American student speaks English, the Spanish-speaking student on the other side can understand her completely (and vice-versa) as their spoken words are translated almost instantly. It’s quite magical, really.

Skype Translator is currently available as a preview and only supports English and Spanish. Skype promises that additional language support is on the way. You can help refine the incredible technology by signing up to become a preview user today.

[Via Microsoft]

Apple dates iOS 8.1 with Apple Pay & OS X Yosemite, intros updated iPads, iMac & Mac mini

On Thursday Tim Cook and company took the stage in Cupertino to make some new Apple hardware and software announcements. In addition to announcing an updated iPad Air, iPad mini, iMac, and Mac mini, Apple also dated the next version of iOS and OS X both coming in just a few days time. For the full scoop, jump after the break. READ MORE Apple dates iOS 8.1 with Apple Pay & OS X Yosemite, intros updated iPads, iMac & Mac mini

Apple announces colorful iPhone 5c, secure iPhone 5s & dates iOS 7

On Tuesday Tim Cook hosted an Apple event in Cupertino that introduced not one but two new iPhones. Also, Apple’s next-gen mobile operating system iOS 7 now has a release date and the company’s productivity suite and creative apps are about to become even more popular. Let’s dive in, shall we? READ MORE Apple announces colorful iPhone 5c, secure iPhone 5s & dates iOS 7

WWDC 2013: Apple intros OS X Mavericks, iOS 7, new MacBook Airs & next-gen Mac Pro

This week Apple held its latest World Wide Developers Conference from San Francisco, introducing to the world the next versions of OS X and iOS, as well as upgrading its MacBook Air lineup and previewing the next generation Mac Pro. For the full rundown, jump after the break. READ MORE WWDC 2013: Apple intros OS X Mavericks, iOS 7, new MacBook Airs & next-gen Mac Pro

Microsoft introduces Xbox One

“Can we take what you love and make it better?” That is the question Microsoft posed at the start of its #XboxReveal event earlier today. The answer lies in their new generation of Xbox hardware and software, “the ultimate all-in-one home entertainment system” that is “simple, instant, and complete.” Nope, it’s not the Xbox 720 or Xbox Infinity as the rumor mill had us guessing; the next-gen console from Microsoft is the Xbox One. READ MORE Microsoft introduces Xbox One

Sony introduces the PlayStation 4

On Wednesday Sony took the stage in New York to formally introduce their next-generation console, the PlayStation 4. Though the company failed to show industry developers, members of the press, and gamers watching a live stream from all around the world what the actual console looks like, it did reveal two new PS4 accessories (namely the DualShock 4 wireless controller and the PlayStation 4 Eye motion sensing camera) and it did go into some detail about how powerful and socially integrated the system is. Read on to learn everything there is to know about Sony’s next-gen vid-game console. READ MORE Sony introduces the PlayStation 4

The redesigned iMac ships today; Apple releases “dramatically simplified” iTunes 11

At Apple’s October special event that introduced the world to iPad mini, Tim Cook and company also unveiled the eighth iteration of the all-in-one iMac. This week Apple made it official that the 21.5-inch model will ship Friday, November 30–that’s today! If you’ve been holding out for the 27-inch behemoth then your wait continues. Apple hasn’t pegged it with a release date; they’re only saying it will start selling in December. The redesigned iMac houses its miniturized tech inside an aluminum and glass enclosure that measures just 5mm thin at its edge. A new storage option called Fusion Drive allows customers to customize their computer with 128GB of flash storage and either a 1TB or 3TB HDD; the two are fused into a single volume to provide faster read and write speeds. The 21.5-incher starts at $1,299 and is available for purchase today.

In other Apple news, iTunes 11 was finally released on Thursday. The redesigned music player and device manager features a new look with new library views and an updated Store layout, Up Next allows you to queue up songs, playlist creation is simpler, the MiniPlayer is smaller but enhanced, and iCloud is built-in making content downloaded on any iOS device instantly accessible in your iTunes library, Mac or PC. Get your download on today.

Windows Phone 8 fully fleshed out, smartphones releasing next month

Three days after the Windows 8 release, today Microsoft formally launched Windows Phone 8 into the world. This summer Microsoft fleshed out most of the new features and enhancements that come bundled with the new mobile OS. At the company’s launch event, however, they shed light on a few more tricks up the OS’ sleek sleeve.

Live Apps: At the heart of Windows Phone is Live Tiles. They fill up the Start Screen and they serve two important objectives. They make your phone personal; you can easily rearrange and resize apps and other icons to your heart’s content. In addition, they are connected to the Internet and are regularly updated with the latest information; this institutes a glance-and-go mentality that Microsoft has been pushing since the ringing in of Windows Phone 7. Live Tiles are personal and informational. In WP8, the lock screen is getting a similar treatment with Live Apps. If a Live App is enabled, simply wake your phone up from sleep and you’ll instantly be provided with personalized updated information without digging for it. For example, make CNN or ESPN your Live App and when you check your phone’s lock screen you will be provided with the latest news headline or sports scores without virtually any effort.

Kid’s Corner: This is a neat feature currently exclusive to WP8. In essence, Kid’s Corner is a guest account that you can personalize for your kids or friends or colleagues. There are times when your kids want to steal your phone to play Angry Birds but you are hesitant to let them fool around with it because they might accidentally change settings or mess around with your inbox and other critical information. With Kid’s Corner, you can create a separate Start Screen environment for them to play around in. In Settings, you can choose exactly what apps, games, music, and video gets made accessible for them. Once you password-protect your phone, your personal account will remain untouched and they’ll be forced to swipe to the left and then up to unlock and enter the guest account known as Kid’s Corner.

Rooms: WP8 provides private spaces for you to interact and communicate with your close friends and family. You can create a Room that consists of your small circle of friends and only those invited to it will be able to view and share information inside it. In addition to a private chat room, a Room also allows shared calendars, notes, and photos. Most of the features in Room are exclusive to WP8 devices, but Microsoft says “some aspects” will work across other smartphones as well.

Data Sense: Microsoft is working with mobile carriers to help you keep track of your data usage since the days of “unlimited data” have come and gone. Data Sense is an app that “helps conserve your data allowance by compressing Web images, deferring data tasks to free Wi-Fi, and automatically adjusting your usage as you get closer to your plan limits.” Verizon will be the first to enable Data Sense, and Microsoft says others will join the initiative next year.

Integrated Skype: Since Microsoft bought Skype, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the communication app will be fully integrated with WP8 when it arrives on the platform soon. You can make and receive Skype calls just like you would a regular phone call, and your Skype contacts are integrated in the People (contacts) hub for easy access.

A growing app marketplace: Since WP7 was announced many developers have hopped on board to support the mobile OS. Currently the Windows Phone Store is home to 120,000 apps. Though this number is low compared to Apple and Android’s offerings, Microsoft is hopeful even more developers will start to pick up the slack and contribute to a growing app marketplace. This holiday season a bunch of popular apps are joining the WP fold such as Angry Birds Star Wars, Cut the Rope Experiments, Disney’s Where’s My Water, LivingSocial, Temple Run, Urbanspoon, “and many more,” promises Microsoft. And early next year, Pandora is coming too with one year of ad-free streaming music to-boot.

With all the software features out of the way, the next logical talking point is hardware. Microsoft has partnered with Nokia, HTC, and Samsung as hardware launch partners for WP8. AT&T will carry the Nokia Lumia 920, the Lumia 820, and the Windows Phone 8X by HTC in November; pricing is TBA. Verizon will carry the Windows Phone 8X by HTC for $199.99 with a two-year contract and the Nokia Lumia 822 (exclusive to Verizon) for $99.99 next month. Another VZW exclusive, the Samsung ATIV Odyssey, will release in December. And lastly T-Mobile will also sell the Windows Phone 8X by HTC (16GB) at $149.99 and the Nokia Lumia 810 at $99.99; these release November 14. The fourth U.S. carrier Sprint is sitting this round out.

If you’re looking for a different kind of mobile experience, Windows Phone 8 is the way to go. With a sleek, modern user interface and an equally attractive hardware selection it isn’t hard to recommend you check out Microsoft’s latest offering. The one (albiet major) drawback is developer support and the app catalog, but if the Store continues to grow at the pace Microsoft is hinting at today then they might just have a mobile platform to finally compete against the likes of iOS and Android.

After the break, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore gives you an extensive tour of Windows Phone 8.

[Via Microsoft] READ MORE Windows Phone 8 fully fleshed out, smartphones releasing next month

Windows 8 is out today

Three years after Microsoft’s last major OS release the next one is out of the bag. As of 12:01AM on October 26 the next version of Windows was let loose into the wild. Windows 8 is an entirely new OS, built from the ground up supporting touch input and a new Start screen that borrows its Live Tile look from Microsoft’s foray into the mobile smartphone space. Though the new OS begs to be touched, it has been proven to work just as well with the typical mice and keyboard setup. PC manufacturers like Dell, HP, Acer, and Lenovo are already selling devices running Windows 8 from desktops to laptops to tablets and convertibles.

This release marks the first time Microsoft is selling hardware of their own to promote it. Surface for Windows RT is out now, and Surface for Windows 8 Pro is coming soon. In case you don’t know the difference, Windows RT runs off ARM processors and does not support legacy applications made for Windows 7, Vista, XP, and so on. RT will only run apps downloaded from the Windows Store, open today. If your needs require such older apps, you’ll have to opt for the Pro version which does support x86 processors and apps designed with that chipset in mind. In a nutshell, Windows RT devices pack small ARM processors that allow for more compact, lighter PC designs and extended battery life; legacy apps won’t run. Windows Pro devices use x86 processors and these PC designs are typically thicker and heavier; legacy apps will run.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer shared his excitement for the latest software release in a press statement: “We have reimagined Windows and the result is a stunning lineup of new PCs. Windows 8 brings together the best of the PC and the tablet. It works perfect for work and play and it is alive with your world. Every one of our customers will find a PC that they will absolutely love.”

To get Windows 8 today you have a couple options: you can either download it from Windows.com for $39.99 or purchase a physical copy for $69.99. Click here for more. There’s also a Windows Upgrade Offer available if you purchase a Windows 7 PC. Check that out here. Order a Surface here.

In addition to the PR, you’ll also find a couple videos after the break. Bill Gates talks Windows 8 and Surface in the first, and if you’re excited about this release as I am you’ll allot about an hour to watch the Windows 8 launch event hosted by Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky with an appearence by Steve Ballmer.

Happy Windows 8 Day! READ MORE Windows 8 is out today

Xbox SmartGlass is live for Windows 8 users (coming soon to Windows Phone, iOS & Android)

Last week Microsoft began rolling out a dashboard update for Xbox 360. In addition to Internet Explorer and Xbox Music, the update also prepped the console for Xbox SmartGlass. Unveiled at this year’s E3 press conference, SmartGlass enables users to interact with their Xboxes via smartphones and tablets. The most basic feature of SmartGlass allows you to control the Xbox dashboard, media playback, and the browser using your mobile wireless devices. The technology’s real potential lies in its second screen experiences. For example, after queuing up a movie on your tablet, you can resume its playback on your HDTV. When the movie is playing on your TV, your tablet will provide related content including the actors starring in the film and this gives you the opportunity to discover other movies they are in. In addition to providing related content for movies and TV shows, a second screen experience can also keep you up to date on the latest sports stats, player bios, and breaking news in real-time while you’re watching ESPN, NBA GameTime, or UFC through your Xbox. Beyond entertainment, developers will start to integrate SmartGlass into their games. For example, in Harmonix’s Dance Central 3 you can queue up the next track on your phone or tablet while a current song is being played. Expect the selection of second screen experiences to grow as time goes on.

Currently the Xbox SmartGlass mobile app is only available for Windows 8 and its coming to Windows Phone 8 after that launches next week. Microsoft promises to release the app (it will update the existing “My Xbox Live” app) for iOS and Android users in the coming weeks. Jump after the break to watch a walkthrough.

Update: Xbox SmartGlass for Android is now available in the Google Play store. Have at it!

[Via Major Nelson] READ MORE Xbox SmartGlass is live for Windows 8 users (coming soon to Windows Phone, iOS & Android)

Apple unveils iPhone 5, previews revamped iTunes & showcases new iPod family

On Wednesday Apple unveiled the next-generation iPhone and it’s called the iPhone 5. They also used their stage time to discuss iTunes+iPod, showing off a redesigned iTunes Store for iOS, a simplified version of iTunes for desktop, and showcasing the next-generation iPod nano and touch. We begin with the top story…

iPhone 5

The iPhone 5 is a beautiful piece of hardware made entirely of glass and aluminum. It’s the thinnest and lightest iPhone to date, measuring at 7.6mm thin (that’s 18% thinner than the iPhone 4S) and weighing 112 grams (20% lighter than the 4S). Apple’s calling it “the world’s thinnest smartphone.” The screen has grown for the first time to 4-inches, boasting a Retina display with 326 pixels per inch and a resolution of 1136×640. The additional screen real estate allows for a fifth row of apps in the home screen, and all of Apple’s apps take advantage of it. Third party apps will see the letterbox effect, but developers can easily tweak their apps to also fill up the screen properly. The iPhone 5 also features 44% more color saturation than it’s predecessor and integrated touch sensors in the screen make it 30% thinner than before outputting a sharper image and less glare in sunlight.

The bigger screen is just the tip of the iceberg. The new iPhone packs ultrafast wireless with built-in GPRS, EDGE, EV-DO, HSPA, HSPA+, DC-HSDPA, and, yes, LTE. In the U.S., LTE will be provided by Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. A single chip does voice and data; also inside is a single radio chip and a dynamic antenna. 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi is there as well.

The newly designed-by-Apple A6 chip features a CPU that’s 2x faster than before, with 2x faster graphics as well. The chip itself is 22% smaller than the previous A5 processor. Apple managed to make battery life better, too. It goes like this: 8 hours of 3G talk time, 3G browsing, and LTE browsing; 10 hours of Wi-Fi browsing and video playback; 40 hours of music playback; and 225 hours of standby time.

Both the back-facing iSight camera and the front-facing FaceTime camera have been upgraded. The iSight cam features an 8 megapixel sensor (3264×2448) with backside illumination, hybrid IR filter, five-element lens, and fast f/2.4 aperture. The 25% smaller design also boasts a dynamic low light mode, spatial noise reduction, a smart filter for improved color matching, better low-light performance, and faster photo capture (40% faster than the 4S). 1080p HD video recording is still here with improved video stabilization, face detection, and the ability to take photos while recording video. The back-facing camera can also take panoramic shots now thanks to a simple enhancement in the Camera app in iOS 6. Moving to the front side, the FaceTime camera takes 1.2 megapixel photos, shoots 720p HD video, and features backside illumination, face detection, and FaceTime over cellular (with Verizon and Sprint only).

Audio is better with three built-in microphones located in the front, back, and bottom of the phone. The improved speaker design is 20% smaller than before and features a five magnet transducer, a noise-canceling earpiece, and wideband audio for better phone call performance.

Say goodbye to the nearly decade old 30-pin dock connector. Apple announced the new Lightning connector that is found in the iPhone 5. It’s 80% smaller than its predecessor, it’s all-digital with an 8-signal design and adaptive interface with improved durability and get this–it’s reversible, meaning you can plug it into the bottom of your device face up or down. Apple will sell a 30-pin to Lightning adapter for those who own accessories like sound docks that were strictly designed with the 30-pin connector in mind.

Apple spent time detailing the next version of their mobile OS, and you can read all about iOS 6 right here. It brings Apple-designed Maps, the new app Passbook, and enhancements to Notification Center, Safari, Mail, Photos, and Siri (among over 250 new features) to the iPhone and its brethren. It’s available as a free upgrade to iPhone 4S, 4, 3GS, 3rd-gen iPad, iPad 2, and 4th-gen iPod touch owners on September 19.

Now it’s time to talk pricing and availability. The iPhone 5 features a two-tone exterior and will come in two hues: black/slate and white/silver. It’s priced exactly like the 4S was: $199 (16GB), $299 (32GB), $399 (64GB). It’s available for preorder starting Friday, September 14 and ships one week later on September 21 in the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. A week after that it releases in 20 more countries, and by December it will ship in 100 countries with 240 carriers around the world. In other news, the iPhone 4 (8GB) is free and the iPhone 4S (16GB) is dropping to $99 effective immediately.

READ MORE Apple unveils iPhone 5, previews revamped iTunes & showcases new iPod family

Google I/O 2012: Nexus 7 tablet, Nexus Q media streamer, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google+ & Project Glass

Google announced a slew of new hardware and software at this year’s I/O event for developers. From tablets to a funky-looking media streamer, to the next version of Android and even the futuristic Project Glass, the boys of Mountain View covered it all so let’s dive right in.

Nexus 7

The Nexus 7 serves the same purpose as the Nexus smartphone lineup: it provides a pure Android experience, but on a tablet. The 7-inch slate was made in collaboration with hardware manufacturer Asus, and it packs a 1280×800 back-lit IPS display with scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla glass. It measures 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm and weighs an impressively light 340 grams. A quad-core Tegra 3 processor from NVIDIA and 1GB of RAM power the tablet, and a 4325 mAh battery 9 hours of HD video playback and 300 hours of standby time. As far as sensors go, there’s an accelerometer, GPS, a magnetometer, and a gyroscope. WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, and NFC are also on board. Ports include Micro USB and a 3.5mm headphone jack, both located on the bottom of the device. There’s rear-facing camera, but you’ll find a 1.2MP front-facing camera for video chatting. 8GB and 16GB storage capacities are available to pre-order today through the Google Play storefront at $199 and $149, respectively. The tablet ships later this month and comes with a $25 credit for the Play store plus a copy of Transformers: Dark of the Moon and other media-related extras. It runs the latest version of Android (that is 4.1 Jelly Bean, more on this later) and Google says it was “made for Google Play.” On the homescreen you’ll have quick access to games, your music, movie, and TV show libraries, and your book and magazine collections. In related news, the Google Play store has been updated and now sells magazines, TV shows, and movies can be rented and purchased.

READ MORE Google I/O 2012: Nexus 7 tablet, Nexus Q media streamer, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google+ & Project Glass