Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Microsoft Skips 9 Heads Straight For Windows 10

During today's press event Microsoft made a rather surprising move. Not by announcing the company's newest operating system, which was widely expected, but rather by announcing a bit of a surprising new name. Windows 10!!

Being described as Microsoft's "most comprehensive platform ever," and the ‘first step of a whole new generation of Windows’, Windows 10 will offer a tailored experience for all hardware across a single platform family. Meaning there won't be 'one user interface to rule them all' but rather a product family, with a tailored experience for each device.

Microsoft has said Windows 10 will run across a broad range of devices and we aren't just talking smartphones, tablets and PCs here. They see Windows 10 running on 'The Internet of Things', which could include everything from family PCs to smart devices, to servers in enterprise datacenters worldwide.

“Some of these devices have 4-inch screens – some have 80-inch screens – and some don’t have screens at all,” writes Terry Myerson, executive vice president, Operating Systems. “Some of these devices you hold in your hand, others are 10 feet away. Some of these devices you primarily use touch/pen, others mouse/keyboard, others controller/gesture – and some devices can switch between input types.”

Windows 10 will combine what Microsoft saw as the best of the Windows 8 "tiles" concept for touch,the familiar we found in Windows 7. Microsoft was looking for the best of both worlds in the new design with features such as:
  • Optimized Touch for Mobile Phones and Tablets
  • Optimized Keyboard Access for Laptops and Desktops
  • Enterprise Features for Secured Business Access
  • Scalable Windows to See Apps and Programs on the Same Screen
  • Common Interface for for "Universal Apps" that'll work across form factor Windows 10 brings back the "start button" concept to the lower left of the screen along with the "Program Menu" concept that users can add programs like Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, etc. to the menu, PLUS the menu also shows (at the same time) the modern Windows application tiles.
Watch the below video from Joe Belfiore to see many of these features in action.

For those wanting an early look at the new operating system you need to sign up for the Windows Insider Program. For more details checkout the Official Microsoft Blog  or to read Myerson’s post, head over to Blogging Windows, and to learn more about today's announcement read the press release.

PayPal Joins the Bitcoin Revolution Allowing Some Merchants to Accept the Digital Currency

Thanks to a recently announced partnership, select PayPal merchants can now accept bitcoins as a form of payment. The announcement, which came last week, highlighted a new partnership with payment processors BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoins making PayPal one of the latest in a long string of companies to accept the crypto-currency as valid payment.

"PayPal has always embraced innovation, but always in ways that make payments safer and more reliable for our customers. Our approach to Bitcoin is no different," Scott Ellison, senior director of corporate strategy, wrote in a blog post. "That's why we're proceeding gradually, supporting Bitcoin in some ways today and holding off on other ways until we see how things develop."

The company wanted to make it clear that the news does not mean that PayPal has added Bitcoin as a currency in their digital wallet system or that Bitcoin payments will be processed directly through PayPal or its secure payments platform. Rather it is simply adding the option as a partnership, so all transaction will be secured through the other vendors.

The new program and agreements took direct affect allowing merchants to accept Bitcoin with a simple integration through the PayPal Payments Hub. This new program will be available to merchants in North America first with possible roll outs to other countries in the future.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Microsoft Reported to Offer Free Windows 9 Upgrades For Windows 8 Users

With a plethora of Windows 9 rumors swirling around and the widely expected introduction expected at Microsoft's upcoming event being help in San Francisco next Tuesday, rumors have risen that we may see some unexpected news from Microsoft that the company may break from tradition and offer its newest operating system as a free upgrade!

Popular geek site BGR originally reported the rumors, which it had found thanks to Indonesian tech site Detik earlier this week. The reports quoted Microsoft Indonesia president Andreas Diantoro as saying that "the Windows 9 upgrade will be available free of charge to all existing Windows 8 users once it's released."

The original Detik article is in Indonesian, but a quick translation through Google Translate, will allow you to view the full article which states amongst other things that Microsoft will indeed announce Windows 9 during the Sept. 30th event. It goes on to state that once released, Windows 8 users "will be able to easily install the Windows 9 update after downloading it from directly Microsoft."

While neither article makes it clear whether other Windows users who are on older versions of the OS will get any other special offers, it does make sense that Microsoft would make moves to try to boost sales of Windows 9 as it is actively trying to move as many people as possible from the older, and no longer supported, Windows XP operating system. Additionally Windows 8 sales have been seen as slumping, so offering Windows 9 as a free download might be a great incentive for users to make the transition to Windows 8 now knowing that they'll be able to move to Window 9 once it is released.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Students No Longer Need School Support to Claim Office 365 For Free

Microsoft has just made it a lot easier for students and teachers everywhere to access their free subscriptions to Office 365 by cutting out the middle man.

Previously, for students and teachers to take advantage of the Student Advantage Program, they had to contact their campus IT department, who then had to set up the account and provide access to the students. Now, all the student needs to do is to provide a verified email address from the school, and Microsoft will do all the hard work.

Last year when Microsoft launched its Student Advantage Program if began giving Office 365 access to students whose schools provided it to their faculty and staff. Now Microsoft has added a self-serve option, too.

Qualified students are given the following for free:
  • The latest versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access and Publisher
  • Installation on up to five PCs or Macs, and Office apps on other mobile devices, including Windows tablets and iPad
  • 1 Terabyte of OneDrive cloud storage
  • Office Online
As part of the program teachers and students at more than 35,000 institutions are automatically eligible for free version of Office 365 ProPlus. To learn more about Student Advantage, visit http://office.com/education.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

iOS 8 Is Here Is Your iPhone Ready?

As promised earlier this month Apple has released the latest version of the company's mobile operating system, iOS 8. The new software update offers users a slew of new features and what Apple explains as "a simpler, faster and more intuitive user experience."

For users looking for more details check below for a quick look at what devices support Apple’s latest OS, how to prepare for the update in advance, and how download it as soon as possible.

Which devices support iOS 8

Before diving head first into what you can expect from the newly updated software let's make sure your device supports it. As always Apple keeps tight restriction on what device will be allowed to run their newest operating system. This is mainly due to hardware limitation and the desire to ensure users get the best possible user experience. Given that, iOS 8 is only available on the devices listed below. It should also be noted that not all features — such as Apple Pay and continuity — will work on all devices or even within all countries.

iPhones iPads iPods
iPhone 4s iPad 2 5th-generation iPod Touch
iPhone 5 3rd-generation iPad
iPhone 5c 4th-generation iPad
iPhone 5s iPad Air
iPhone 6 iPad mini
iPhone 6 Plus iPad mini with Retina display

Ready your iPhone for the iOS 8 update

Before attempting any sort of major software update there are several things to be done. For starters we all know software updates can go wrong — and Apple’s are no exception. It’s always a good idea to back up your data before proceeding. Thankfully Apple makes that easy to do via iTunes or iCloud. This is always a major first step but it is one that will lessen the risk of you losing your contacts, messages, photos, and any other content you have stored on your device.

To back up your iPhone via iCloud and your local Wi-Fi network, tap Settings on the iPhone’s home screen and select the iCloud option in the resulting menu. Then, select Storage & Backup and ensure the iCloud Backup is enabled, or simply tap the blue Back Up Now option at the bottom.

Your second step should be freeing up some space on your device. Anyone that has done a major iOS update in the past and has had a device full of data will know that it can cause issues. You’ll reportedly need at least 1.4GB of free storage space to install iOS 8. So now is the time to free up some memory and do a little house cleaning. I suggest cruising through your photos, contacts, and apps for anything you no longer us or is severely outdated. You should have all that backed up now anyways but if not you can always offload it to your iCloud or iTunes account or store it elsewhere if you’re worried about losing those precious moments and music you rarely listen to.

The last step in the process is updating iTunes and all your apps. iOS 7 should have automatically kept your apps up to date, but it only does so periodically. Launch the App Store as you would normally, tap Updates in the bottom-right corner, and then Update All to download and install the latest version of all your apps. Many developers have already begun to release software updates optimized for iOS 8 — even prior to the platform’s release — so it’s worth double-checking just in case. This also ensures you have a lesser chance of any compatibility issues. Updating iTunes at this stage is also critical if you are using it to install iOS 8 or just as a back-up in case something does go wrong!

Download the iOS 8 update

At the time of typing this the iOS 8 update has gone live and should be well on its way to you wirelessly. Once the update becomes available to you, ensure your iOS device is connected to both a charger and your local Wi-Fi network. Launch the main Settings menu, tap General and then Software Update, and press Download when prompted. Then merely tap Install when the download is finished.

If installing via iTunes, connect your iOS device to your Mac or PC and select it beneath the Devices list in iTunes. Afterward, click the Check for Update button before selecting either the Download Only or Download and Update option. Allow the upgrade process to finish before unplugging your device, regardless of which method you choose. It could take awhile.

What features can I expect in iOS 8?

Amongst the new features are changes to iMessages such as predictive typing for Apple’s QuickType keyboard as well as the ability to create audio text messages and share the location via text. There will be several new Photos features including the ability for the device to automatically straighten horizons, and and the addition of smart editing tools so you can quickly adjust light and color with a swipe. For deeper fine-tuning, you can access individual tools to adjust exposure, brightness, contrast, highlights, shadows and more.

A new integrated Health app gathers the information you choose from your various health apps and fitness devices, and provides you with a clear and current overview in one place. With your permission, each app can use specific information from other apps to provide a more comprehensive way to manage your health and fitness. Users will be able to gather and monitor their own fitness metrics using apps such as MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper and Strava. Healthcare providers can now monitor the data their patients choose to share through apps such as Mayo Clinic or Epic’s MyChart app that will be used by Duke Medicine and Stanford Children’s Health/Stanford Medicine, among others.

More details on all the new additions and updates can be found here

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Google Officially Extends Refund Window for Android Apps to 2 Hours

Google Play Store
There is nothing worse than paying to download what you think is going to be the best game or greatest app of all time only to find out you absolutely can't stand it. In the past with apps from Google Play you've had to make your decisions and uninstall that app quickly so you'd receive your refund. Thankfully Google has now decided to allow you to take your time in deciding if you like an Android app or not.

Google generally allows users a short 15 minute testing window to decide if that impulse buy, or random recommendation from a friend, was worthy of being added to your app collection or not. However, over the past month or two Google has slowly been extending that testing period. Now Google has officially updated its Google Play support page to fully extend that time to a two-hour refund window.

To get a refund for an app you don't like, open the Google Play Store app on your mobile device, touch the Play Store icon and select My Apps, then select the app or game you want to return and look for the Refund option. If the two-hour refund window has not yet passed, Open and Refund buttons will be displayed. If a Refund button is not displayed, your purchase is not eligible for return.

The one caveat is: this only works once per app. So, if you previously paid for and downloaded an app you didn't like and already received a refund, and choose to re-download it at a later date, you won't be able to return it.

Great news for those pesky geeks like us that like to test out a lot of different apps but also have impeccable taste. Also good news for you gamers out there that like to test out some of the latest games before making the full purchase.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Google Adds Free Voice Calling to Hangouts

Google Voice may officially be dead but that doesn't mean the service is gone for good. Google has just given the free VoIP service a bit of a reprieve as the company has announced the addition of free voice calls to Google Hangouts. The new service will offer free calling to other Hangouts users and phone numbers in the U.S. and Canada,. There will also be an option for international calling with what Google is stating are low international rates.

To get started on Android, just grab the new version of Hangouts (v2.3, rolling out over the next few days), then install the accompanying dialer to turn on voice calls. On iOS and the web, voice calls will be available the next time you open the app.

For all you current Google Voice and Google Voice app users, you will soon see a pop-up prompting you to migrate to the new Hangouts app. Once your migration is completed messages sent will show as "via GV" to let you know it was sent to your Google Voice number. It's also worth noting that if you turn on Google Voice integration, the Voice app will stop receiving messages—everything will go straight to Hangouts.

There is no need to worry though. The new update brings almost all of the current features of the Google Voice service to Hangouts. This means your new Hangouts calls will be fully integrated and will allow you to use your current Google Voice number. All your voice-mail transcriptions appear in the regular Hangouts chat interface, as do text messages to your Google Voice number.

For outgoing text messages, Google will give users a couple of options. There is a smart reply feature that will automatically send your replies from the number that received it (Google Voice or your regular phone number), or you can choose to always use Google Voice or your phone to respond.

For the time being, iPhone users will only get support for Google Voice calling. SMS and voice-mail support is coming “soon,” according to Google.

Google has been rapidly integrating all of its communications services such as Google Talk, Google+ Messenger and regular SMS functionality into the Hangouts application on Android, and with the integration of Google Voice it will finally be able to provide a unified communication tool to its users.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Amazon Prime Instant Video Now Available On Android Smartphones, Tablets Still Unsupported

Amazon Prime Instant video has finally made its long overdue debut on Android smartphone thanks to the most recent updates to the popular app. The service which has long been available on Amazon’s own mobile hardware and even Apple’s iPhones and iPads has until now inexplicably bypassed support for Android. Forcing Prime owners to browse selections through other means.

Today, however, Amazon is finally showing Android devices the love they deserve when Amazon announced that Prime members in the US, UK and Germany will now have the ability to enjoy Prime Instant Video on their Android phones. The latest update of the Amazon App for Android combines the fast and easy mobile shopping experience customers have come to know and love with access to unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes from Prime Instant Video.
The new Amazon App for Android includes:
  • Hundreds of millions of items for purchase, along with Customer Reviews, 1-Click purchase and access to account and delivery information
  • Tens of thousands of movies and TV shows available for unlimited streaming for Prime members, including favorite HBO shows such as The Sopranos, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Six Feet Under and The Wire, and Amazon Original series like Alpha House, Tumble Leaf, Creative Galaxy and Annedroids
  • More than 200,000 movies and TV episodes to rent or buy
  • Over 30 million songs
  • More than two million Kindle books, along with over 150,000 audiobooks and more than 600,000 exclusive books that customers won’t find anywhere else
  • 5GB of free photo back-up with Amazon Cloud Drive
“Tens of millions of our customers have installed the Amazon app on their Android phones in order to enjoy the ease and convenience of shopping Amazon on the go,” said Paul Cousineau, Director of Mobile Shopping. “Now, the latest Amazon App for Android combines that award-winning mobile shopping experience with access to Amazon’s digital products and services, including unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes at no additional cost for Prime members. At Amazon, we are always innovating on behalf of our customers and we look forward to receiving their feedback on this enhanced shopping experience.”

Android smartphone users can visit amazon.com/androidapp or the Google Play Store for more information about the new Amazon App for Android.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Twitter's New “Buy” Button Offers In Tweet Purchasing

Some Twitter users will begin seeing a new option tacked on to some of their Tweets in the form of a 'Buy Button' that will allow you to make purchases directly from several select sources. For the test market the social media site has partnered with several major musicians (Brad Paisley, Eminem and Soundgarden just to name a few), retailers such as The Home Depot and Burberry, and nonprofits (The Nature Conservancy) to let you buy merchandise share from their Tweet.

“Users will get access to offers and merchandise they can’t get anywhere else and can act on them right in the Twitter apps for Android and iOS; sellers will gain a new way to turn the direct relationship they build with their followers into sales,” Twitter group product manager Tarun Jain said in a Monday blog post.

Twitter says an entire purchase can be completed in just a few taps. After tapping the “Buy” button, you will get additional product details and be prompted to enter your shipping and payment information. Once that’s entered and confirmed, your order information is sent to the merchant for delivery and all your payment will be secured and processed via Stripe's payment system.

Here are just a few of the current groups and artists listed: 
According to Twitter the 'Buy Button' will initially be rolling out to a small percentage of U.S. based users with more availability coming soon

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Logitech's New Keyboard Works With Multiple Cross-platform Devices At The Same Time

Logitech K480
Are you using the same Bluetooth keyboard across more than one device and getting tired of having to un-pair and re-pair it with each device every time you need to swap platforms? Well Logitech now has the answer!

The Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 is designed to be used with up to three devices, regardless of computing platform, at the same time. Now, you can work on your Windows, Mac or Chrome OS based computer, switch the Easy-Switch dial, and instantly be able to respond to a message on your smartphone or tablet.

The full size keyboard measures 20 mm (0.79 inches) x 299 mm (11.77 inches) x 195 mm (7.68 inches) and weigh just 820 g (1.81 pounds). Offering you a full keyboard experience in a small portable package. For tablet and phone users there is also a docking cradle which can be used to hold your phone or tablet at a comfortable angle. For you fashionista geeks out there the Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Keyboard K480 comes in two colors, black with yellow highlights and white with grey highlights.

Logitech has priced the K480 Bluetooth keyboard at $49.99 which considering it an replace multiple keyboards at once seems pretty reasonable. The keyboard is expected to be made available in both US and Europe markets later this month September.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Have An App Rejected By Apple? Here Are The Most Common Reasons Why

Since the inception and launch of the Apple App Store Apple has amassed billions of downloads across the hundreds of thousands of apps. While most developers haven't had issues getting their apps approved some notably have and typically those rejections come with little to know explanation as to why.

Thankfully, Apple is a bit sympathetic to the plight of its developers and as such has published a list of the most common reasons their hard work seemingly went in vain and was dumped to the cutting room floor!

Top 10 Apple App Rejections

Luckily for most developers the main reasons for rejections are simple and can easily be remedied. The top reason stems from administrative issues. If devs fail to provide enough information or a valid demonstration account, then their work will simply be ignored. Buggy code and none compliance with the developers agreement also top the list.

The rest are seemingly ordinary rejections such as Apple wanting only polished submissions that aren't in beta or demo testing, or app that contain false, fraudulent or misleading representations. Ironically the one rejection we don't see listed here, and one Apple has come under fire for in the past, is the duplicate content requirement. Apple has often come under fire for removing apps it feels duplicate any service or app that the company itself already provides.

For those looking for more resources and a list of guidelines used to review apps submitted to the App Store and Mac App Store, Apple offer this App Review page.