The need for more secure communication services has certainly spiked in the wake of the NSA spying revelations, with providers placing a higher emphasis on keeping their users' personal and work information safe from unwanted access. After all, those users expect (and demand) them to do so. As a result, it is not out of the ordinary to see the word "secure" being used as one of the many buzzwords that describe such services nowadays. The question is whether the presentation matches the behind-the-scenes reality.
Among the slew of services that promise secure communications is Perzo, which launched as a beta in late-August 2013. Perzo was founded by David Gurle, who is best known for his former roles as head of the Windows Messenger development and general manager and vice president of Skype for Business in the early 2000s. The service piqued my attention, and I chatted with the man to find out what sort of features and security options Perzo can bring to the table as a newcomer in the "secure communications application" market.
Starting today, the new iPad Mini with Retina display is available to order from Apple's online store. The tablet was unveiled, alongside the bigger iPad Air (that launched November 1) and other products bearing the fruit logo, three weeks ago during a special Apple event.
Folks looking to purchase one today and get it as soon as possible should take into account the customary initial lead times. Apple lists the 16 GB and 32 GB Wi-Fi iPad Mini with Retina display as ready to ship in one to three business days (lower than its estimates for the new iPad Air -- five to seven business days). The 64 GB and 128 GB Wi-Fi as well as all cellular models are slated to ship in five to ten business days. This applies to both the Space Gray and Silver trims.
One of the largest usability gaps in Windows Phone 8 stems from the lack of a quick and easy way to toggle system settings, similar to what Android's quick settings or iOS's Control Center offer. The feature allows users to turn Wi-Fi, mobile data, GPS and others on and off in as little steps as possible, without having to navigate through the Settings menu every single time to alter their state.
Luckily there are apps in Windows Phone's Store that fill this void, with System Tiles being one of the most appealing and customizable offerings available today. The app is easy to use and quite powerful, allowing folks to create intuitive live tiles that can gather a significant number of shortcuts to apps and settings, all in one place.
Microsoft shows no signs of slowing down. After unveiling a major update to Office Web Apps, today the software giant releases the stable version of Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 7. The latest iteration of the popular browser debuted alongside Windows 8.1 in mid-October and like its predecessor it forgoes supporting older versions of the operating system.
And because Windows 8.1 is being offered as a free upgrade to Windows 8 users, and Microsoft expects everyone to take this step, Internet Explorer 11 is not officially available for the latter OS either. It is a Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 affair only, which speaks volumes of Microsoft's ongoing efforts to drastically reduce Windows XP's market share and push the two Internet Explorer 11-supported operating systems to the forefront.
Microsoft has introduced a major update for Office Web Apps, meant to improve collaboration on documents. At the same time, the latest update also allows the service to better compete against its arch-rival, Google Docs.
The Excel, PowerPoint and Word cloud apps are getting real-time co-authoring, a feature that has been available for quite some time in Google Docs. Put simply, this means that users can perform simultaneous edits, with the said cloud apps also informing folks whenever someone else is altering a certain part of the document. The real-time co-authoring is augmented by the ability to see text and formatting changes in files as they are being made.
Cloud storage service Mega arrived with a bang early this year, after its controversial founder Kim Dotcom revealed that users will get a whopping 50 GB of storage at no cost. The man's involvement with the defunct Megaupload certainly piqued people's interest, with more than three million users trying or relying on the service within the first month.
More than nine months after its launch, Mega has announced, via its official blog, the end of the beta stage. The cloud storage service now touts "significant improvements and optimizations" as well as a refreshed look for the site. Let's take a look at what's new.
When Nokia unveiled the Lumia 1520, the Finnish maker did not provide an exact launch date for its new Windows Phone 8 phablet. However, the device was announced to be available in a limited number of markets, including US.
Ahead of the official launch, Microsoft decided to shed some light regarding the US availability of the Lumia 1520 on AT&T. On the software giant's online store, the phablet is now listed as available to pre-order, with the release date set for November 15.
In keeping up with tradition, Microsoft has launched Windows 8.1 in both digital and physical form. Users can install the new operating system by using either a downloaded ISO file or the provided DVD. But what happens when neither option is right for you? You can use a USB drive.
There are a number of major benefits to using a USB drive for this process. It's compatible with virtually every device that is meant to run Windows, forgoes the need to have a spare DVD and the burner around and is much easier to store and carry with you wherever you may go. A USB drive can also be faster than any DVD, shortening the time needed for the install, and, chances are, you probably already have one lying around. Also, compared to ISO files which can only be leveraged from Windows, USB drives can be used with no software installed on the device.
Today, TeamViewer announces a new beta version of its popular remote control software for Windows, Mac and Linux PCs. The latest release, named TeamViewer 9 Beta, introduces new features aimed at businesses, developers and end-users as well as security improvements.
The most noteworthy security addition in TeamViewer 9 Beta is two-factor authentication. It allows users to add an extra layer of protection to their accounts by using security codes, that can be sent to their mobile devices and, alternatively, generated by dedicated mobile apps. On Macs, TeamViewer 9 also adds the option to increase the password strength in QuickSupport.
In late-July 2012, Microsoft launched Outlook.com, a new consumer-oriented email service set to replace the cluttered and dated Hotmail. Its long-term mission would be to take on Google's prevalent Gmail and establish itself as a product with widespread appeal. By grandfathering-in those who used Hotmail, Microsoft announced, in early-May 2013, Outlook.com had reached 400 million users.
I delivered my review of Outlook.com two days after its launch. My impressions were positive for a product that, at the time, was still undergoing testing (the official public launch happened in late-February 2013). Still, I concluded that the service was not up to par with Gmail, because it was missing key functionality. But lots of things have changed in the meantime, which is why I decided to write this long-term review of Outlook.com, outlining the most important changes and detailing the positives and negatives of the service, now that it has reached maturity.
Worldwide, Windows Phone may hold a distant third-place spot in the smartphone market, but in Europe handsets running the mobile tiled OS are closing in on Apple's iPhones through huge share gains. According to a new Kantar Worldpanel ComTech report, in five key local markets Windows Phone sales more than doubled in Q3 2013, compared to the same period from last year. Meanwhile, iPhones lost market share.
In France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain combined, Windows Phone's market share grew to 9.8 percent in Q3 2013 from 4.6 percent a year earlier. The highest market share gains happened in France (to 10.7 percent from 5.2 percent), Germany (to 8.5 percent from 2.5 percent) and Great Britain (to 11.4 percent from 4.2 percent), with Italy and Spain posting more moderate growths (to 13.7 percent from 10.8 percent and to 3.7 percent from 2.2 percent, respectively). By contrast, in the said local markets iPhone's market share decreased to 14.6 percent in Q3 2013 from 16.8 percent a year earlier.
Android has long been blamed for its fragmentation issues, with many pundits pointing out to the low adoption levels of the latest distributions as the main culprit. While this problem has yet to be resolved due to the nature of the operating system, it is much improved today as the Jelly Bean branch is now powering most Android smartphones and tablets.
Based on the number of devices accessing Google Play in the seven days ending November 1, Jelly Bean's market share in the Android realm is now at a dominating 52.1 percent. Combined, its three iterations have a higher distribution level than Ice Cream Sandwich and Gingerbread put together, which is a first for the green droid landscape.
After a long string of leaks and rumors, Google has officially launched Android 4.4 KitKat. The new mobile operating system, that has debuted alongside the Nexus 5, focuses on polishing the overall user experience, adding new features and improvements aimed at both entry-level and high-end devices. As usual, the big question is: When will your smartphone and/or tablet get the upgrade?
Google was among the first companies to reveal its plans for the upgrade. The search giant has announced that Android 4.4 KitKat will soon be available for the Nexus 4, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, as well as the Google Play editions of the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 in the following weeks.
Cloud, cloud, cloud. This is a word that is prevalent when describing modern services, and one that we hear all too often nowadays. The premise is simple: move stuff somewhere you cannot control and leave it to someone (or some company) to do the backend work for you. For CRM software this approach appears to be ideal, as both the developing companies and their clients seem to embrace it.
CRM software used to be associated with on-premise solutions, but this approach has failed to integrate well into the new computing landscape where mobile devices are used increasingly around the office and on the go. A mobile-friendly philosophy is key. I chatted with Pipedrive, a company that makes cloud-based CRM software, about how it leverages the cloud and what the benefits are for its 30,000 users.
In mid-August 2012 Google decided to give a select number of users custom URLs for their Google+ profiles. My colleague Joe Wilcox is one of the lucky few who received one. The change would make profiles easier to link to and share as the address is simpler to remember, read and write, with the Plusser's name replacing the string of numbers usually associated with it.
Late-yesterday, Google announced that all Google+ users will be able to take advantage of custom URLs for their profiles. The option is rolling out "throughout the week", to those who meet the search giant's permissive eligibility criteria.