Wayne Williams

Zombies, Run! Season 3 out next month

zombies

I went for a 5k run before starting work this morning, and as always Zombies, Run! provided me with the motivation required to not come to a stop, bored, after ten minutes. I’ve covered the immersive app several times in the past, but if you’re not familiar with it, Zombies, Run! basically turns a real-world jog into a journey through the zombie apocalypse. Episodic stories unfold in between tracks from your playlist as you run.

There are plenty of episodes on offer for regular runners, and a radio mode will give you something to listen to once you’ve finished with the main story and side quests. However, sooner or later you’ll have listened to everything and be ready for new tales, and the good news is they’re on their way.

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Skype for Outlook.com finally available to all, gains HD video calling

Skype

Ten months ago, Microsoft announced it would be rolling out a preview version of Skype for Outlook.com in the United Kingdom that would allow users to make audio and video calls directly from their inboxes.

Three months later, the devices and services giant expanded the preview’s availability to five additional countries -- United States, Canada, Germany, France and Brazil -- and stated it would be rolling out the feature to the rest of the world "in the coming weeks". A mere seven months later and finally, today, Microsoft makes good on that promise, announcing that Skype for Outlook.com is now available to all. The service also gains support for HD video calls.

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For the second month in a row, Windows XP shows stronger growth than Windows 8.x

New Windows shrug

It's a new month and so once again NetMarketShare reports desktop share for all of the major operating systems. What's interesting this month is all versions of Windows showed fairly minor changes. Whether dropping or gaining, the differences in share were minimal.

However, one inescapable truth is clear from the figures. While Windows 8.x might finally have shifted 200 million licenses, use of the OS has pretty much plateaued. In February, Windows 8's share declined from 6.62 percent to 6.38 percent, a drop of -0.24. Windows 8.1 increased shared from 3.94 percent to 4.30 percent, rising by 0.36. Combined, Windows 8.1 grew by just 0.12 percent.

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Apple announces CarPlay -- a new way for drivers to use iPhone in the car

CarPlay2

It’s been rumored for a while, but today Apple announces its new in-car interface that will let iPhone users make calls, use Maps, listen to music, and access messages with just a word or a touch. It will debut this week at the Geneva International Motor Show.

"CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car," says Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPhone and iOS Product Marketing. "iPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction. We have an amazing lineup of auto partners rolling out CarPlay, and we’re thrilled it will make its debut this week in Geneva".

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Best iOS apps this week

curse

Eighth in a series. The app that’s got me most excited this week isn’t even out yet. Audio Defence: Zombie Arena, from the makers of Papa Sangre II, is an audio-only first person zombie shooter that promises to be awesome. If it can hit its Kickstarter target that is.

Of the new and updated apps that have arrived in the store this week, the Professor Layton inspired The Voyage is a great puzzler, and God of Light will similarly tax your gray matter. Parents worried about what their children get up to on the web while using an iPad (or iPhone), will be interested in the MetaCert browser. Google has improved its Hangouts messenger apps, and a chunk of the world's knowledge has been curated into Learnist.

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You know what’s scarier than facing a horde of zombies? Facing a horde of zombies in the dark...

zombies

I was a beta tester for Papa Sangre II, the excellent audio-only game for iOS (if you’ve yet to try it I can whole-heartedly recommend it -- Sean Bean stars) and am a massive fan of Zombies Run, an audio fitness app, that you listen to while running and which takes place following a zombie apocalypse.

So naturally, the news that Papa Sangre’s creators Somethin' Else are working on a zombie-based audio-only first person shooter has me in a heightened state of excitement.

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Microsoft's attempts to persuade XP users to switch to Windows 8.1 are wide of the mark

Miss the mark

On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will officially end support for Windows XP. After that date, users of the aging OS will no longer receive new security updates, hotfixes, support options, or online technical content updates.

Obviously the tech giant is worried about the dangers than might befall XP users who continue to cling on to the decade-and-a-bit old OS after that date, and that’s the reason for all the blog posts that have been appearing lately. I mean, sure, it looks like Microsoft is cynically using the death of XP support purely to try and persuade people to upgrade to Windows 8.1 but that’s not the case, honestly. Oh, okay, maybe it is. A bit.

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Microsoft rolls out Office 2013 SP1, includes fixes and features

Happy Business woman office PC

Microsoft has released a service pack update for the latest version of Office. Service Pack 1 (SP1) promises greater stability, expanded functionality, and security enhancements for Office 2013, SharePoint 2013 and Exchange Server 2013, as well as improved compatibility with Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2.

The service pack contains all of the public and cumulative updates released since Office 2013 first became available, as well as numerous unreleased fixes and updates that reflect recent changes. SP1 improvements include:

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Will you buy the new Samsung Galaxy S5?

05_SM-G900F_copper GOLD_02

So Samsung has taken the wraps off its new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5. It's a good looking device, that refines and improves on last year's model and borrows elements from Apple's similarly named device, most notably the fingerprint scanner used to unlock the phone and make mobile purchases. Even the choice of colors on offer is similar -- there's black, white and gold available, although Samsung includes a smart "electric" blue shade too.

It doesn't just copy from Apple though, it has some welcome additions of its own. Highlights include dust and water resistance, a Download Booster, which speeds up downloads by bonding Wi-Fi and LTE simultaneously, a built-in heart rate monitor, an improved 16 megapixel camera, and an Ultra Power Saving Mode that shuts down all non-essential features to allow you to eke out the last remaining drops of battery life.

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Samsung announces the Galaxy S5 -- 'goes back to basics'

Samsung Galaxy S5 Blue

Today at the Unpacked 2014 event at Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, Samsung introduces the latest iteration of its flagship smartphone. The Galaxy S5 is, as you’d probably expect, evolution not revolution. The smartphone looks like a more polished update of last year’s S4 and comes with Android 4.4.2 KitKat and Samsung’s user interface and S-branded apps.

The device is slightly larger than the S4, at 5.1 inches, with a 1080p Super AMOLED panel. It sports the same plastic surround, but with a new perforated look, and is IP67-rated for water and dust resistance, and so can survive being submerged in 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. There's a new home key below the screen with an integrated fingerprint scanner that can be used to unlock the phone and authenticate mobile payment purchases online.

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Watch Samsung’s Galaxy S5 announcement here

samsung-unpacked-5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wOnaoq1AYE&feature=share

There’s already been a lot of big announcements pouring out of the Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, but the really big one is still to come. Samsung is set to introduce its Galaxy S5 smartphone today, and thanks to the usual round of photo leaks we already have a good idea of what to expect.

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Microsoft now fighting the Windows 8.x war on two fronts -- can it win either battle?

bomb

According to reports, Microsoft is set to slash the price it charges OEMs for Windows 8.x. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to pick up a copy of the tiled OS for any cheaper, but it does mean significant savings for (some) PC builders.

At the moment, Microsoft charges all OEMs $50 per copy of Windows 8. The price cut will see this license figure reduced by 70 percent to $15 per copy. However, there is a caveat -- it will only apply to devices that will be sold for $250 or less at retail. In other words, Microsoft is hoping to kick start a run of lower-priced PCs, in an effort to compete with Chromebooks.

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Best iOS apps this week

tengami

Seventh in a series. There was no round-up of iOS apps last week, not because there weren’t any worthy releases -- this is iOS, there are always great apps to cover -- but because I was away. I’m back now though, and so normal service is resumed.

This week there were some great new apps and games released, including a stunning adventure set inside a pop-up book, a 3D tour through some of nature's wonders, and a game that aims to improve your listening skills (something my wife says I need to do -- or at least I think that's what she says).

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Google needs to do something about Nest’s birdbrained support

nest

I purchased four Nest Protect wired smoke detectors direct from Nest at the end of January. I live in the UK, they were shipped from Holland, and so took five days to arrive. No big deal. I got an electrician friend round to fit them, and he made an interesting discovery -- the power cables connected to my existing smoke detectors were dead (the devices still worked as they were running off batteries, and past false alarms showed they were linked together, so there was no safety risk). The only way to connect my new Nest devices was to do a massive rewiring job. I decided to speak to Nest and swap my wired models for wireless battery ones.

You’d imagine this would be a simple and painless task. But Nest, which was recently purchased by Google for $3.2 billion and produces intelligent hardware, has possibly the least intelligent returns policy in place. Four phone calls later, and I still have my wired Nest devices because the company has what has to be a contender for the worst support ever.

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SkyDrive relaunches as OneDrive, adds new features

OneDrive-Microsoft-Collection2

Following a legal battle with satellite broadcaster BskyB, Microsoft was forced to change the name of its popular cloud storage service SkyDrive, opting to go with OneDrive. The name change was unveiled three weeks ago, but today the update begins rolling out across all compatible devices.

Microsoft hasn’t simply just changed the name and logo of its product, and switched the web address to onedrive.com, it’s added some additional features too, and to celebrate the launch is giving away a grand total of 10 petabytes of free storage.

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