Friday, April 17, 2015

Microsoft Finally Makes Bing Relevant With 20 Percent Market Share

When it comes to search engines we all know Google is king of the hill. They have sat on top of the mountain for years now with little competition for the top spot. Their dominance in the marketplace came largely due to one thing, they were the best out there. Over the years Microsoft and others have fought the good fight to carve out their own space, but generally that haven't had much success.

Recently though there has been a bit of a shake-up at the top. Microsoft has poured more and more time and money into building a better search engine with more powerful tools set to compete with Google. Now it looks like they are finally making up some ground.

According to analytic company ComScore, Bing's Market Share has topped 20.1 percent, marking the first time the search engine has broken into the 20 percent mark and showing continued growth up from 19.8 percent in February. Yahoo's share dipped slightly to 12.7 percent from 12.8 percent the prior month. And No. 1 Google remained flat with a 64.4 percent slice.

Though ComScore's numbers include only searches conducted from the desktop and not from mobile devices, Bing's 20 percent share reveals a slow but healthy gain over the past few years. In December 2011, Bing finally surpassed Yahoo as the No. 2 search engine with a share of 15.1 percent and has been gradually moving higher since then.

Much of the sustained growth can be directly attributed to Microsoft's aggressive tactics and marketing plans. In December, Microsoft started integrating Bing into its Office Online product so that users don't need to leave Office to search Bing. And Microsoft has long had the Bing Rewards programs where users can earn entries into sweepstakes and points for gift cards and other various prizes for using Bing search.

Microsoft has also expanded their search partnerships including a newly updated pact with Yahoo which allows them to use customized Bing results while still offering more "flexibility to enhance the search experience" across mobile and desktop devices. Microsoft also expanded Bing's reach thanks to Yahoo's recent partnerships with Firefox, to set their search as the default for the browser.

Taking the numbers as a whole and considering that Yahoo sites and services are also powered by Bing, you can see just how much impact that Bing is having in the market. Just last month Bing powered more than 30% of all searches performed on desktop computers in the U.S. So it certainly appears as though Microsoft is on the right track and that Google may finally have a true competitor!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

IKEA Helps You Cut Cords With New Wireless Charging Furniture Line

Wireless smartphone charging is slowly hitting the mainstream with several companies including Samsung, Apple, LG and HTC now either offering the option built in (as with the new Samsung Galaxy S6) or as an add-on through either add-ons cases or batteries.

With the option coming more popular, and coming to more devices, companies beyond traditional manufactures are looking to get in on the action. Enter popular furniture designer IKEA. The company has officially launched a new wireless charging furniture collection, which adds a wireless charging base to things like bedside tables and lamps.


IKEA's approach follows the company's traditional train of thought. They wanted to offer simple yet effective designs placing chargers where you use your phone the most!

“With the help of our wireless chargers, we make charging easy, fun and convenient, by turning furniture into charging spots. We enable convenient charging throughout the home, designed for your personal needs. At the same time, we make homes more beautiful by minimizing the use of cords. Nobody likes cords, yet everyone wants a fully functional home. With our wireless chargers, it’s possible to have both.” Bj√∂rn Block, IKEA Range Manager for Lighting and Wireless Charging.


In addition to the charging pads and wireless chargers that IKEA has already integrated into their new furniture collection, they will also offering a wireless charger that offers you geek the opportunity to create your own custom furniture designs or home do-i-yourself projects that you can build into furniture yourself. Called JYSSEN, it lets you create a wireless charger that’s truly unique and tailored to your needs. And if you already own an IKEA desk or aren't the creative type, IKEA promises that JYSSEN will also fit perfectly into the cord outlet on some of their desks.


The collection ranges in price from $9.99 to $119 and includes several different lamps (floor, table, work), two different styles of bedside tables, as well as desks, and simple charging pads. The pieces all have built-in wireless chargers that support the Qi wireless charging standard which means they should work with almost all current device and accessories. The collection is rolling out globally, starting today in Europe, and should arrive in the U.S. in "late spring," Ikea said.

For more details checkout the full line-up and details via IKEA (PDF)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Apple WWDC Set For June 8th, Register Now Through April 17th For Ticket Lottery



Apple has set the date for the company's 26th annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). This year the widely popular event will be held June 8 through June 12 at San Francisco’s Moscone West. Similar to last year's event, attendees will need to per-register for tickets, which will be sold through a lottery system.

As per usual Apple's focus will be on core devices and services, though developers can expect a large portion of that focus to be shifted towards the newly launched Apple Watch as well as Apple's newly released ReaserchKit software framework designed specifically for medical and health research that helps doctors, scientists and other researchers gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using mobile devices.

For those looking to attend you can apply for tickets starting today via the WWDC website (developer.apple.com/wwdc/tickets) with registration running through Friday, April 17 at 10 a.m. PDT. Tickets cost $1599 and will be issued to attendees through a random selection process, and developers will know the status of their application by Monday, April 20 at 5 p.m. PDT. There will also be up to 350 WWDC Scholarships available, giving students and members of participating STEM organizations around the world the chance to earn a free ticket (developer.apple.com/wwdc/scholarships).

You'll need an Apple developers account in order to register for the conference. Specifically, you need to be a current member of the iOS Developer Program, the iOS Developer Enterprise Program or the Mac Developer Program as of Tuesday morning's announcement of WWDC. Developers ages 13 through 17 must have their submissions completed by a parent or guardian who is an eligible member.

For those attending WWDC 2015, Apple promises the event will feature more than 100 technical sessions, with over 1,000 Apple engineers. There will also be hands-on labs to help developers integrate new technologies and fine tune their apps, as well as the Apple Design Awards which showcase the best new apps in the last year.

WWDC 2015 activities include:
  • more than 100 technical sessions presented by Apple engineers on a wide range of topics for developing, deploying and integrating the latest iOS and OS X technologies;
  • over 1,000 Apple engineers supporting more than 100 hands-on labs and events to provide developers with code-level assistance, insight into optimal development techniques and guidance on how they can make the most of iOS and OS X technologies in their apps;
  • access to the latest innovations, features and capabilities of iOS and OS X, and best practices for enhancing an app’s functionality, performance, quality and design;
  • the opportunity to connect with thousands of fellow iOS and OS X developers from around the world—last year more than 60 countries were represented;
  • a series of get togethers for attendees focused on particular topics with special guest speakers and activities; 
  • engaging and inspirational lunchtime sessions with leading minds and influencers from the worlds of technology, science and entertainment; and
  • Apple Design Awards which recognize iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac apps that demonstrate technical excellence, innovation and outstanding design.
 For those not selected to attend, Apple is promising that WWDC 2015 will still offer you plenty. This year there will be more sessions than ever being streamed to developers. Select Worldwide Developers Conference sessions will be live streamed throughout the week via the WWDC website (developer.apple.com/wwdc/videos) and the WWDC app, giving more developers around the world access to the latest information in real time. Videos from all technical sessions will also be available by the end of each day.

Friday, April 10, 2015

How To: Use Do Not Disturb Mode On Your Samsung Galaxy Device With Android Lollipop

Love having your phone on you and on at all times but hate getting those annoying calls or message notifications at the worst possible time? Even if you don't know it, you likely already have option to mute those annoying calls, message notifications and led flashes all while still allowing priority messages or contacts to ring through.

For Samsung Galaxy owners, Samsung has been adding Blocking Mode to their phones for years now, all the way back to the first Galaxy devices. The feature allows you to receive calls and notifications from selected 'priority callers' while remaining silent and stealthy to anyone not on your allowed list. With previous version of Andorid (KitKat and earlier) the function was fairly basic and only allowed you to block incoming calls, turn off certain notifications, and turn off alarm and timer reminders.

With the changes Google has made to Android Lollipop came the inclusion of features dubbed downtime and priority mode which now allowed for much more customization and better control over your allowed contacts and allowed notifications. However, Samsung added in their own spin customizing these features under Lollipop and TouchWiz as the new Do not disturb setting.

The new Do not disturb setting can be quickly enabled/disabled from your quick settings panel, though it takes a bit more work to find and customize the actual settings. On previous versions of Android and TouchWiz you could simply go to apps, settings and scroll to find Blocking mode. Now you have to look under Settings–Sound and notifications (a quick scroll to the bottom should show it).


To customize your settings and allow priority mode callers simply tap Do not disturb, tap allow exceptions, and swipe it to on. Here it allows you to select to receive or block all alarms, calls or messages. You can also tap Calls and messages from to allow/deny calls from everyone, favorite contacts (this would be your priority callers), or only contacts.


For those wanting to block application notifications Samsung has added the option to customize those as well. Back in the Settings–Sound and notifications panel, just below Do not disturb, is the option for Application notifications. This setting will allow you to pick and chose on an individual basis which applications will notify you. You can block or allow each app individually, or set them as a priority to be shown in the notification panel when Do not disturb mode is enabled.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

New Subscription Service Means You May Soon Be Able to View YouTube Videos Without Ads

youtube logoAccording to recent updates found in the terms of service for YouTube program developers, Google is planning on launching a new paid subscription service for YouTube viewers that will allow subscribers to watch select videos without those painfully intrusive and often annoying ads!

At this time there are few details about the new service other than the fact that Google is reportedly offering content creators 55 percent of revenues generated from subscription and that the new terms will go into effect in June of this year.

"While we can't comment on ongoing discussions, giving fans more choice to enjoy the content they love and creators more opportunity to earn revenue are always amongst our top priorities," Google's YouTube said in a statement, without commenting on the timing of the service.

The new terms of the service letter seen here, offers few other details such as how much the subscription will cost per month or when we can expect to see the service launched to users. For now that will all be a wait and see scenario.

Also unclear at this time is the type of content that will be offered through the service, or rather if the monthly subscription will cover anything beyond the typical YouTube or content or if the service will include new premium or exclusive content that can’t be found elsewhere. YouTube might position it as a premium service with its own programming, similar to Netflix or HBO Now.

What little we do know is that Google has been very busy over the years trying to leverage YouTube's popularity and attract as many partnerships as possible. As recent as last year they even launched their own music video subscription service.

In a bit of irony, the Official YouTube blog posted a retrospective of "The last 5 years of ads on YouTube" celebrating their fifth anniversary of our skippable TrueView ads and showcasing how many advertisers have moved from traditional ads to create videos that feel less like ads and more like content you want to watch.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Become A Google Guru With These Essential Tips and Tricks

Most of us geeks might like to think they know it all when it comes to all things Google and while that may be true for the average user that likely isn't the case. These days Google offers much more than just the basic search engine. The company now offers loads of features and services and within each of those services are a plethora of other services and features including several hidden gems.

To help users get the most out of their Google experience and turn any novice user into a Google Guru, the company has created a whole page dedicated to “78 things you didn’t know you could do with Google”. The page is setup with fact cards that work to provide users with the basics they need to help them get the most out of each of Google's many services.

The tips are broken into five categories, Do More, Save Time, Have Fun, Be Secure and Ask Google. Products include everything Google from Android to YouTube and all the essentials in-between. Tips include many of your everyday basics like customizing your Gmail inbox as well as newer additions like editing videos in YouTube.

Many of these tips are going to be fairly basic, but they should offer enough details to get you started. For those geeks out there that are looking to get more from each service but are having a hard time finding the best results, Google also offers a tips and tricks page for Google Search that will help you narrow your searches down so you can find even more tutorials or help pages.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Amazon Prime Video Finally Adds Android Tablet Support

For years now Amazon Prime Video members have lacked one serious feature, support for Android Tablets. Thanks to a recent update, that has all changed, as Amazon has finally upped its game and began supporting all Android devices big and small!

Several years ago when Amazon launched their Prime Instant video service they made the rather odd decision to offer fairly limited on-device support and even much more limited support for portable devices like Android based smartphones and tablets. However, the company has recently began working to alleviate that issue, offering minor updates to their applications. The roll-out of these updates has been a rather slow process though, with Android smartphones receiving the updated app late last summer.

Today, thanks to an update to the Amazon Prime Instant Video app (version 2.0.45.1010), Amazon is finally offering support for those users who want to stream video content to their Android tablets (via Android Police). Previously, Prime Instant Video only worked with Android phones, and more recently with Fire devices and iOS devices.

Now watch Amazon Instant Video on your Android phones and tablets. Instantly stream thousands of movies and TV episodes, including Amazon Originals, at no additional cost with your Amazon Prime membership. You can also rent or buy from our catalog of hundreds of thousands of videos, including new release movies and current TV shows. On Android phones, this app lets you watch videos from the Amazon app for Android phones, available from http://www.amazon.com/androidapp. On Android tablets, this app enables watching videos in your mobile web browser.

The functionality of the app is still fairly limited, so not much has really changed there—to find and view content users need to launch Prime Instant Video from their devices web browser, but they will then be able to watch on their tablets. Additionally the app is currently only available through Amazon's own Appstore so you will need to install it directly from there. You can find the direct link here.