Mihaita Bamburic

Bing Maps gets major redesign, available now in preview

Bing Maps Major Redesign User Interface

Whenever I use Bing Maps I get the sense that Microsoft has long conceded that its service will never be as popular as Google Maps. Otherwise it would look more visually appealing -- not as if it is a low-priority product -- and frequently gain new, powerful features. With Windows 10 on the horizon -- and Bing a key part of the experience -- not having Bing Maps ready for an influx of new users feels like a missed opportunity.

However, Microsoft is actively working on a major redesign for Bing Maps, which might put it back on consumers' radar. "Users want a map experience that is fast and easy to use, and makes the most of the visually rich data that maps can bring to life", says the team behind the service. And with lots of changes, it certainly looks promising.

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Google launches Android One in Pakistan

QMobile A1 Android One Pakistan

The Android One program targets consumers in emerging markets who are looking for smartphones with an untainted Android experience, devoid of the typical bloatware and customizations that they can expect from major vendors like Samsung. At the same time, Android One is also about offering that vanilla Android experience in an affordable package, so that more consumers can afford to make the switch to smartphones.

Android One launched in India in September of 2014, and has since expanded to include other Asian countries. The latest market to join the program is Pakistan, where QMobile's A1 is now available.

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Windows 10 build 10163 screenshots leak online

Windows 10 build 10163 Start menu leaked screenshots

With Windows 10 set to debut at the end of the month, Microsoft is busy making the final tweaks to its new operating system before it gets into consumers' hands. Just last week Insiders received three new builds, seemingly close to the finished product. Behind closed doors, Microsoft is actively working on fine-tuning the experience further.

We got word of Windows 10 build 10163 late last week, when its release notes leaked online. There are lots of bug fixes and known issues listed, as one might expect from a non-final release, and no new major features. And now we have some leaked screenshots to go along with the release notes.

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Buy a Windows Phone from Microsoft, get Nokia headphones for free

T-Mobile Microsoft Lumia 640 with free Nokia headphones (Coloud Boom in yellow)

If you are in the market for a new Windows Phone now is the time to pull the trigger. Microsoft is running an attractive promotion, giving customers a free pair of Nokia headphones with the purchase of any Windows Phone from its online store.

And I mean any Windows Phone. This promotion applies to all Acer, BLU, Microsoft and Nokia-branded Windows Phone devices that Microsoft sells, so you are not limited to a certain brand or, most importantly, a certain price bracket.

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Official Eyefi Mobi app available on Windows Phone

Eyefi Mobi logo

As more official apps are available in Store, more consumers will start paying attention to Windows Phone and, perhaps, be willing to switch from their Android smartphones and iPhones. The selection is improving, even if at a slow pace, and it is nice to see new known developers embracing the platform.

So, having Eyefi Mobi finally available on the platform is a major win. While not known by the majority of users, in the sense that Facebook is at least, it is a very important app for photography enthusiasts. here is what you need to know about it.

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Motorola Moto 360 can now be had for just $149.99

Moto 360 Docked

While the competition is trying to catch up, Motorola's Moto 360 remains one of the best-looking Android Wear devices on the market despite being around for over nine months. It is also among the most refined, making it an attractive purchase for the smartwatch enthusiast.

The one thing that you may not like about Moto 360 is its price, which, considering that a successor is likely to be announced in the coming months, is a bit too high. Motorola has fortunately addressed this with a $100 price cut.

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Windows' WiFi Sense is a useful feature misunderstood by the media

confusedpw

Earlier this week The Register published a story about WiFi Sense, saying the feature "smells like a security risk". The publication is making a huge deal out of it, even though the way it works has been known ever since Microsoft introduced it in the Windows Phone 8.1 preview builds more than a year ago. So it is not news today, and acting like there is something noteworthy to say about it at this point seems disingenuous to me and, quite frankly, clickbait.

For those who are not familiar with it, WiFi Sense is a feature that allows Windows Phone 8.1 -- and Windows 10 -- users to easily share access to Wi-Fi passwords with their contacts and friends. In this day and age, if Apple or Google introduced such a feature the media would go crazy. But, no. Microsoft is criticized for trying to make things easy for its users. How silly is that? Some of the things The Register says about Wi-Fi Sense reveal no proper knowledge of the feature.

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Microsoft details 4G LTE Surface 3 availability

Surface 3

While the Wi-Fi version of Surface 3 has been available to consumers and businesses for nearly two months now, the same cannot be said about the 4G LTE counterpart. It only went on sale two weeks ago, and only in Japan, and is not yet available in any other markets where the slate is offered.

This is about to change as Microsoft today announces that this week the 4G LTE version of Surface 3 will also be available to prospective business customers in Germany and UK. Consumers will have to wait a bit longer, however.

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How to jailbreak iOS 8.4

Jail cell keys jailbreak

With previous versions of iOS we have had to wait a while for a jailbreak to finally come out, but for iOS 8.4 one is already available. The TaiG team has moved extremely quickly to update its tool, releasing an updated version that supports iOS 8.4 shortly after Apple made it available to the public yesterday.

Apple has packed dozens of security fixes in the new version of the mobile operating system, but the TaiG team announced on Twitter that the exploit it uses to jailbreak iOS has not been patched.

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Apple releases iOS 8.4, OS X 10.10.4 Yosemite -- here's what's new

ios_update

Just as expected, Apple today released iOS 8.4, officially launching its Apple Music streaming service and the Beats 1 radio station. Also new for today is an update for OS X 10.10 Yosemite, which comes with a significant number of bug fixes and improvements in tow.

Apple Music and Beats 1 are introduced through the redesigned Music app. Upon launch, it promotes the company's new streaming service, inviting users to a free, three-month trial. There is a new icon as well as a new user interface -- if you want to keep listening to your existing music collection, you can do so as easily as before. The new Music app is not all that is new in iOS 8.4, as the new release also features a number of bug fixes and improvements targeting iBooks and other parts of the operating system.

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Head up displays 'are a threat to safety' -- but aren't we better off with them?

BMW Head up display

Car makers offer some interesting equipment options that are said to increase driving safety. One of those features is a head up display, which shows the driver essential information, such as the speed and turn-by-turn directions, without having to take the eyes off the road. This is a benefit that is commonly pitched by car companies, as, in theory, it would allow the driver to be more focused on what's ahead rather than be distracted by a smartphone or navigation system.

However, a University of Toronto report contradicts this assertion, claiming that, in practice, HUDs are distracting and "a threat to safety" because they force drivers to focus on two different things at once: the road ahead and the windshield.

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Apple Music, Beats 1, iOS 8.4 to launch June 30

apple_music

After months of testing, Apple revealed earlier this month, at WWDC 2015, that iOS 8.4 will be officially available in late-June, bringing us the new Apple Music streaming service and Beats 1 radio station. While those are the biggest changes, the new version of the popular mobile operating system will also feature a number of under-the-hood tweaks to improve the user experience, as we have come to expect from the most-recent iOS releases.

Quite a few of us expected Apple to launch iOS 8.4 way before the end of the month, but it looks like the company has other plans in mind, as iOS 8.4 is officially set to launch on the very last day of June.

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Lenovo, if you make this retro ThinkPad, I'll give up my MacBook Air

Retro ThinkPad 1

It would take quite a laptop to bring me back to the Windows fold after using and enjoying a 13-inch Apple MacBook Air for nearly two years. I love the versatility Apple's device provides: it is light and portable, offers amazing battery life, has an awesome keyboard and trackpad, performs well, can run Windows and Linux alongside OS X and, on top of it all, looks quite nice as well. To be perfectly honest, there is nothing that I miss that could push me towards another laptop.

However, I am not exactly a normal person. I'll be the first to admit it. When I saw Lenovo's retro-inspired ThinkPad the first thing that crossed my mind was: "This ThinkPad is awesome. I have to have this". It just so happens that old-school-looking ThinkPads are like kryptonite to me. Imagine how I feel about this modern interpretation. There is only one problem -- this is a concept. But, Lenovo, if you make it and I can buy it, I will give up my MacBook Air to have it!

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Latest Qi standard promises fast charging times

Wireless Charging Smartphone Wall Cable Charger Plate Pad

While wireless charging is extremely convenient, as it allows you to charge your devices just by resting them on top of a charger, it is also very slow by modern standards, because of the low amount of power that can be transmitted. However, for the Qi standard, this issue is expected to go away soon.

Wireless Power Consortium, the group behind the standard, boasts that Qi will work more like Quick Charge, a Qualcomm technology, in the sense that it will transmit much more power to supporting devices to greatly decrease charging times.

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You can now sign up for Facebook Messenger without a Facebook account

Messenger Sign Up iOS

Thanks in no small part to Facebook, Messenger is rapidly growing in popularity. On Google Play, the app reached one billion downloads earlier this month, while on Apple's App Store it leads the free apps chart for iPhones. But while it certainly benefits from being tightly linked to Facebook, the company wants to make it possible to sign up for its messaging service without a Facebook account.

When it announced this change, Facebook did not detail why it is introducing this sign up option. However, it looks like the company wants its messaging service to become more attractive for those who are not willing to join the social network but want to connect with their Facebook friends.

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