Monthly Archives September 2014

New Version of Windows Unveiled – Dubbed Windows 10

new-microsoft-logo-square-largeMicrosoft hosted an event in San Francisco this afternoon, giving the public their first look at the newest version of Windows. The name of the operating system was revealed to be Windows 10, not Windows 9 as many predicted.

Windows 10 will integrate elements from Windows 7 and 8. Windows 8’s tiled interface caused many users to become frustrated at the lack of classic features. Windows 10 will mark the return of the traditional start menu and taskbar users have become accustomed to from Windows 7, while maintaining the colorful tiles from Windows 8.

Microsoft has designed Windows 10 to work across all types of devices. Smartphones, tablets and laptops alike, it is being dubbed one platform for all mediums. The addition of a feature called Continuum will allow the operating system to adapt based on what type of device is being used. The event for Windows 10 also showcased its superior multitasking capabilities, an improved snap feature and the ability to run apps on desktops.

Microsoft’s “insider” program will launch tomorrow, enabling people to test the technical preview of Windows 10. A consumer preview of Windows 10 will be available early next year, and the final build will launch mid-2015.

 

Facebook Ad Server Will Allow Advertisers to Track Users

facebook

Facebook is now allowing advertisers to use its data to track its 1.3 billions users. The main feature of Facebook’s revamped ad server, called Atlas, is a technology referred to as “people-based marketing.” Regardless of the device an individual is using, advertisers will now be able to measure how often an individual sees their ads and tailor promotions based on the information.

The Atlas ad server will be shown to top advertising agencies this week in New York, during Advertising Week. Omnicom Group Inc., whose clients include PepsiCo Inc. and Intel Corp, will be the first to use Facebook’s new product.

“There is just a huge shift to mobile and we’re capitalizing on it by offering personalized marketing,” Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in an interview.

User’s Internet activity is expanding to include mobile phones and applications, so advertisers are looking for more accurate ways to target them and ensure the right promotions are reaching the right people. Capitalizing on this need, Atlas also gives advertisers the ability to use Facebook data to target users of Instagram, and tells them who saw their ads and if they bought something.

The new product’s ability to track users may ignite fears regarding security, but Sandberg assures marketers won’t be given access to any data that members haven’t made available through privacy preferences.

The Future of Ear Infection Diagnoses Could Lie in a Smartphone

smartphoneWho wouldn’t want to save themselves a trip to the doctor? CellScope, a San Francisco-based company, is working on creating the world’s first digital first aid kit. They are starting with Oto, an otoscope smartphone attachment.

The device allows users to view the inner ear canal from the screen on their phone. They can then use a corresponding app to take a picture and send it to a doctor for diagnosis. CellScope foresees the tool as being helpful for teachers, parents and clinics alike, as well as being educational for children by allowing them to see what an infected eardrum looks like.

Oto is already available to healthcare professionals, and will hopefully be available for home use within the year. There is no word yet on how much it will cost.

Apple Pulls Back Latest iOS Update

AppleApple has decided to pull its iOS 8.0.1 software update after it caused some major problems for iPhone users. Many customers reported the update resulted in loss of cell service, making them unable to make calls. There were also complaints the fingerprint ID feature stopped working after the update.

Numerous complaints flooded Twitter shortly after the update was released. “No service on my iPhone after iOS 8.0.1,” said one user. “DO NOT UPDATE,” said another.

The update, released on Wednesday, was meant to fix software bugs and add the health and fitness-monitoring application HealthKit, which had been cut from last week’s release. But it seems the update caused more problems than it fixed.

“We are actively investigating these reports and will provide information as quickly as we can,” Trudy Muller, a spokeswoman for Apple, said in the statement. “In the meantime, we have pulled back the iOS 8.0.1 update.”

For now, users can continue using iOS 8.

New Survey Shows Canadians Not Protecting Themselves Online

password securityCanada is a country with surprisingly little online security know-how. A recent survey of 1,000 Canadians over the age of 18 revealed the Great White North takes shockingly few protective measures when it comes to their tech.

The new survey released by Norton by Symantec reported that 30 percent of Canadians do not have any security software installed on their devices. Another 30 percent do work on their home PCs. Although the correlation between these two numbers was not revealed, it isn’t a stretch to assume people who take their work home might not have any security software in place either.

Two-thirds of Canadians have logged into public Wi-Fi in the last month, which offers no security against hackers. As well, 25 percent have shared their personal passwords with friends or family, proving that Canada shares the same poor password hygiene as the rest of the world.

Giving your spouse your password, using public WiFi and bringing work home may all be convenient, but it is also important to know the risks and be as protected as possible.

AT&T Combines Basic Cable, Broadband, HBO and Amazon Prime For $39 Per Month

AT&TIn an attempt to dissuade cord-cutters from abandoning cable altogether, AT&T is offering a new package combining basic cable, broadband, HBO on demand and a one-year subscription to Amazon Prime. All of this is being offered for the low price of $39 per month.

Many cable companies are working to retain customers with low-priced bundles. For example, Comcast offers “Skinny Bundles” which combine broadband and a select number of channels including HBO for $49 per month.

AT&T has what appears to be an even more enticing offer. The addition of a year’s worth of Amazon Prime is impressive on its own. A subscription normally costs $99 per year and is being slashed to $39. This price still allows customers to take full advantage of all being an Amazon Prime member has to offer. Two-day shipping, Prime Music, Kindle borrowing and access to Amazon on-demand movies are all included.

Customers will want to read the fine print of this offer, however, if they don’t wish to pay anything above the advertized $39. There are some hidden fees attached. The package locks customers into a one-year contract with AT&T, and a fee of $180 must be paid if a customer wishes to terminate their contract before their term is up. Service activation fees, equipment installation fees, monthly broadcast surcharges, charges for whole-home DVR and full HD along with other taxes and regulatory fees could all add to a customer’s bill.

A subscription could cost a customer $148 in upfront costs and result in a monthly bill of up to $66.99. At the end of the one-year subscription customers will see their bills jump to $90-100, as AT&T will begin to charge the regular fees for its service once the offer is up.

Google Drops Mandatory Google+ Signup When Creating a Google Account

Google privacyA recent story from Marketing Land reports Google has quietly abandoned the requirement for new Google account creators to also create Google+ accounts.

After 2.5 years of mandatory Google+ profile creation during the signup process for any new Google account, users are now being given a choice. Many people viewed the compulsory Google+ profile creation as a strong arm tactic. While users will still be given the option to sign up for a Google+ account when they create a new Google account, they can now elect to click on the new “No thanks” button to opt out of the process.

Some view this change as evidence Google may be preparing to kill their three-year-old social network. A more likely option is Google will continue to make subtle changes to the service, switching its focus to functionality rather than number of users. Google+ has many popular products such as Hangouts and an excellent photo product, which may be improved upon and made available to those without Google+ accounts.

Google no longer seems concerned with beefing up Google+ users, as it will clearly never be more popular than Facebook. However, Google has not lessened the impact of Google+ within its other services. If users want to upload videos to YouTube or leave app reviews, they may not want to ignore the social network after all.

Samsung’s Selfie-Centric Smartphone Leaked Online

SamsungSamsung is reportedly working on a new device designed especially for taking selfies. Photos and details of the smartphone dubbed the Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime were leaked by Vietnamese website thegioididong.com, according to Digital Spy.

The device’s main attraction is a 5-megapixel front-facing camera backed up by a range of software features. The phone will also have an 8-megapixel snapper residing on the front.  This new offering from Samsung will be competing with other models geared towards selfie takers, such as the Nokia Lumia 735 and the Sony Xperia C3.

Details have yet to be revealed on territories of release, but the Grand Prime is rumored to come out next month in Vietnam with a price tag equivalent to $236 US.

With selfies being the trendy way to take photos nowadays, it only makes sense phones geared towards selfies are becoming a focus for companies.

Do Distracted Driving Laws Cover Smartwatches?

texting and drivingThe law is constantly evolving to keep up with our technologically innovative world. For example, law enforcers will soon have to decide whether or not smartwatches are the same as cell phones when it comes to distracted driving. Will they be allowed on the road or will being caught using one cost the driver a sizable fine?

Ontario’s transportation ministry is leaving it up to the police to decide. The commotion around this issue comes after Apple’s unveiling of the Apple Watch, which is set for release in early 2015. Authorities believe this will create a lot of interest in smartwatches, and in turn increase the amount of instances they are seen on the road.

“There’s nothing illegal about looking at your watch to see what time it is, but if you’re consumed by the functions of the watch (that’s different),” says OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt in an interview.

While the police are still trying to decide the fate of this issue, the definition of distracted driving comes into play. Since it is currently defined as driving with a hand-held device and smartwatches are strapped to a user’s wrist, some situations may result in a charge of careless, rather than distracted, driving.

“Generally speaking we think that when people are driving they should drive, and focus on that very important thing that they’re doing — not be engaged in their electronic devices, whether they’re on their wrist or in their cup holder,” Canadian Automobile Association spokesman Ian Jack tells reporters.

Quebec told the Canadian Press that it is currently reviewing its distracted driving laws as well.

Pre-Ordered iPhones Outnumber Supply

iPhone 5cThe reveal of the new iPhone 6 has people racing to pre-order Apple’s latest product. However, it has become so coveted the number of orders has exceeded the supply of actual devices.

A record four million iPhone 6s have been ordered to date, which is nearly double the amount of the iPhone 5 in 2012. The company predicts first weekend sales will reach up to 10 million. Due to the amazing online numbers, some users will have to wait until next month to receive their phones. Deliveries will begin September 19th and continue through October.

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus boast larger screens and longer battery life. The device will go on sale in the United States, Australia, Canada and a few other countries starting September 19th. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile US, Verizon Wireless and some Apple-authorized resellers will begin selling the devices at that time as well.