As increasing numbers of government and other services go online, internet access becomes more important and mobile devices play a big part in that.
Yet according to charity Age UK there are 10.8 million people aged 65 or over in the UK but only three percent of them own a smartphone which could mean they're missing out on 'digital inclusion'. In order to make smartphones more accessible to older users, the new Amplicomms M9000 has all the benefits of an Android touch screen phone but with hardware and software specially adapted for the less technically adept.
Microsoft did something rather unexpected earlier this month. The software giant unveiled a revamped MSN, saving the online portal from oblivion -- its biggest merit lately is being the default website for Internet Explorer. The new MSN looks great, connects users to Microsoft's consumer-facing cloud services, and can be tailored to suit their preference. It also makes it easy to trigger a search across the InterWebs. Heck, I have even said it might work as the Bing landing page.
Fast forward to today and Microsoft announces that more than 10 million users have tested the new MSN, with more than 80,000 of them also submitting feedback. Those numbers look really good. And they should, considering the online portal's Microsoft-focused audience. The feedback it has received must have been good also, as Microsoft announces it is rolling out the new MSN in the next three days.
When I bought my first Chromebook, the 2012 Samsung model, I did it mostly for one reason -- price. I drove down to my local Best Buy and was blown away by how inexpensive it was; at $249 it looked like a MacBook Air and promised good battery life. Even though I knew the limitations of Chrome OS beforehand, I still handed over my money thinking I could find a place for it in my home. For the most part it was OK; I mean, it changed the way I thought about computing, but it soon became apparent that it could not replace my Windows machine. I didn't return it; I kept for basic typing on the go, but I later sold it as it collected dust. You see, my iPad Air when coupled with a keyboard-case was a better portable machine.
Now, in 2014, Chromebooks are making huge strides in homes, schools and the enterprise, but Windows still reigns supreme. While I do recommend Chromebooks for people low on cash that only have basic computing needs, today this changes. You see, HP announces the $199.99 Stream 11 laptop, and with a price that low, why would you bother with Chrome OS?
How much do you hate ads? How much do ads piss you off? Well prepare to turn into an even bigger ball of hate-filled pissed-off-ness when you hear about Facebook's latest ventures in advertising. Few people would argue against the suggestion that Facebook has all but given up any pretence of being a social network and has become little more than a huge cog in a massive advertising machine. Claims have been made that ads are being made more relevant to users, but the truth of the matter is that users are being made more relevant to advertisers. And Facebook now has a whole new way to follow you around the web to make sure you are delivered even more better-targeted ads.
While we all await the arrival of the next Nexus from Google -- and the wait isn't likely to be very long now -- other low cost Android tablets are trying to attract both our attention and our cash. Asus has a good track record in this respect. Lest we forget, Asus was in fact Google's partner for the last Nexus tablet, though it looks like Google may be ringing the changes in terms of a hardware partner this time round.
Anyhow, what we have here is the MeMO Pad 8, the latest in a line of smaller format, lower cost tablets from Asus that are designed to cater to our desire for a larger than phablet screen that's still potentially pocket-friendly in size and wallet-friendly in price. The MeMO Pad 8 will set you back around £160.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has decided that mobile phones are completely safe to use in-flight, including during take-off and landing. Previous rules required passengers to either switch off phones, or flip them into airplane mode. The EASA's latest decision does not mean that there is an automatic right of mobile use afforded to fliers, but airlines now have the option to permit handset use on their flights. So if you've splashed out on an iPhone 6, bendy or otherwise, you can show it off to your fellow fliers.
While airplane mode blocks the ability to send and receive calls and messages, many passengers have found that they are asked to switch off entirely and refrain from using their handset in any way. The new ruling will arm passengers with more ammunition if they want to argue their case, but it's likely that many European flights will quickly bow to popular demand and permit the use of phones.
There are lot of ways to get your hands on a free tablet -- stick it on your birthday wishlist, win one in a competition, steal one. But there's also another option: get yourself to university. At least this is a path to a free tablet -- a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 specifically -- if you happen to be a first year student at the University of East London. 4,000 students will be handed a brand new Samsung Galaxy Note 8 when they start their studies. The venture will cost the university £2 million (around $3.25 million), but the vice-chancellor thinks that it is money well-spent.
It might not be the newest tablet on the market, but few students are likely to turn their noses up at the freebie. Professor John Joughin said, "We are delighted to be putting support directly in the hands of our students and providing them with a state-of-the-art learning platform for the duration of their studies", explaining that equipping students with the tablets will create a "level playing field for all of our students".
Apple and Google do not want the US Government to be able to access your private data, even when search warrants are involved. It's a bold stand they're taking, which has been applauded by privacy advocates and, quite probably, criminals as well. But, guess what? That does not sit well with the authorities. FBI Director James Comey is troubled by the idea that the all-mighty agency that he runs can be stopped dead in its tracks when trying to see your intimate photos, videos and whatnot. Imagine that.
Here's what the fuss is all about. If encryption is turned on, the encryption key, that is needed in order to access the data that is stored on an Android or iOS 8 device, is in the user's control, instead of Google's or Apple's. As such, this allows the companies to be unable to comply with search warrants. It's clever: you can't give what you don't have.
A week ago, in a letter to the European Commission, News Corps complained that Google is a 'platform for piracy' with 'cynical management'. Today, having gathered together its ammunition, Google responds with a letter of its own. Although News Corp's letter was signed by CEO Robert Thomson, Google's reply starts with the salutation "Dear Rupert" -- addressing CEO Rupert Murdoch -- and the search giant picks apart the complaints levelled at it. One of New Corp's key complaints centered around the idea that Google is riddled with pirated material, and "unlawful and unsavory content", and this is one of the first ideas that Google shoots down.
Countering accusations of being a platform for piracy, SVP Global Communications, Rachel Whetstone, points to the 222 million copyright infringing websites that were delisted last year. The existence of copyright protecting ContentID technology to help detect infringing footage on YouTube is also cited, as is efficiency in weeding out inappropriate contents such as sexual images of children.
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is among the most important new mobile devices to go on sale in the second half of 2014, alongside Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (which launched last week); the latter is a direct competitor. The Android phablet was slated to go on sale next month, but, in no small part thanks to the strong sales performance of the new iPhones, Samsung wants to get it in consumers' hands much sooner.
Samsung has announced that Galaxy Note 4 officially goes on sale this Friday, September 2014, in its home country of South Korea. There pre-orders started earlier this month, with consumers reportedly showing a strong interest in the device. But what if you live outside of South Korea?
Seven years after its inception, online image editing service Aviary has been acquired by Adobe. The Photoshop stalwart is no stranger to the cloud, but this latest purchase seems to indicate that the company is looking to expand further in this arena. Pay a visit to the Aviary website and the Adobe branding is already in place -- there's also a new entry on the Aviary company timeline that has been updated to reflect the acquisition. The Adobe-branded Aviary website makes clear the thinking behind the move: "accelerating delivery of mobile apps that integrate with Adobe Creative Cloud".
It seems that the main reason for Adobe's interest in Aviary is the fact that the ornithologically-named firm has developed a number of mobile SDKs. Aviary is already a popular tool, and Adobe is understandably keen to monetize the popularity of cloud apps and mobile services: Aviary is a ready-made package that encompasses both of these ideas perfectly. An announcement by Adobe explains that "the acquisition accelerates Adobe's strategy to make Creative Cloud a vibrant platform for third-party apps, through a new Creative SDK".
Smartphone manufacturers are conservative when it comes to form factors. Virtually every new handset is of the bar (slate) type. That is because this allows the shell to maintain a thin profile and the touchscreen to take up most of the space on the front panel. Both are features relevant today. Unsurprisingly, clamshells and smartphones do not ever go hand in hand. But there are exceptions.
Among the few smart flip phones, or flip smartphones, is the newly-unveiled LG Smart Wine. The device runs Android 4.4 KitKat and packs decent hardware specifications for what could very well be the ultimate niche smartphone.
There is plenty of competition in the cloud storage space, but, unfortunately, for the most part any massive changes are limited to paid plans. They get bigger, they get cheaper, but the free tier, which most users get first, remains largely as limiting as it has always been. Sure, we get a couple of extra gigs for free here and there, but it's all smoke after all, meant to lead us right to the money grabbers. (And who could blame providers for trying to make money?)
Now, Microsoft is doing something rather interesting, as it gives OneDrive users nearly twice as much storage in the free plan, bumping the limit from a so-so 15 GB to a respectable 30 GB. The reason? Well, it's a damn clever one -- the extra freebie is meant to help Apple users who are having trouble with iOS 8 upgrades due to low available storage. Because this is an oft-discussed issue, it is bound to generate some free advertising for Microsoft and OneDrive.
Turning on data encryption can make a huge difference in case your Android device is lost or stolen, as it will make it extremely difficult -- if not impossible -- for a third-party to access your files. It also gives you quite a bit of time to remotely wipe your device, which means that your photos, videos, texts and whatnot have a better chance of remaining private.
And if the local authorities want to take a peek, they are also out of luck -- it's good news for those involved in criminal enterprises, and others as well. All this sounds great from a privacy and security standpoint, except that encryption has never been enabled by default in Android. But that is soon about to change.