Nowadays, if you buy a brand new laptop, it is hard to buy an absolute lemon. Unless you scrape the bottom of the barrel at Best Buy and get some god-awful $200 underpowered computer, you should be fine. Hell, even that inexpensive computer may meet some people's needs. However, some of us spend many hours of each day on a computer, so it makes sense to invest in something great. If you are reading BetaNews, I'm sure you fall into that category. If you ask me which computer to buy, I would recommend many (depending on budget), but two stand out among the rest.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and Apple MacBook Air are great balances between portability, power and cost. Yes, there are more powerful computers, but they are often very heavy and have terrible battery life. Portability cannot be underestimated when it comes to a laptop's value and both of these machines are super thin and light. Last month, my colleague Mihaita pondered the question of which was better based on specs alone. However, as someone who has used both, hands-on, for long periods of time, I am ready to definitively tell you that the Surface Pro 3 is better. Do you agree?
Has Apple painted itself into a corner with iOS 8 multitasking? I ask because, like many technology enthusiasts, I came away from WWDC feeling a bit let down. After all, everyone and their grandmother was expecting Apple to announce some sort of split-screen multitasking capability for iOS 8. Yet when Mr. Cook and friends took the stage there was no mention of the feature.
So, what happened? According to my sources, it all comes down to a programming mechanism known as "Auto Layout". Introduced with iOS 6, Auto Layout allows developers to create apps that support dynamic resizing, using pre-defined rules for object spacing to adapt an app’s UI to fit a particular screen resolution or orientation.
Eyes were focused on Microsoft as the company held an Xbox One press conference at E3 2014, with the focus being very much on games. Not to be outdone, Sony also held a press conference at the event. Consoles from Sony and Microsoft are still largely reliant on traditional controllers -- dull! But the SteelSeries Sentry Eye Tracker is something to, almost literally, keep an eye on as it allows for controlling games with your peepers. PS4 users have the arrival of YouTube to look forward to, and Chromecast owners will soon be able to stream files from VLC.
In security news, AVG publicized details of yet another OpenSSL flaw. While less serious than other vulnerabilities that have been discovered recently, it's still something of a cause for concern. We're still feeling the fallout of the Zeus botnet, and F-Secure set up an online testing tool that can be used by anyone to check for the infection. One tactic used to attack websites is bombarding them with comment spam, and new research shows that 80 percent of such spam is generated by less than a third of site attackers.
Twenty-third in a series. It will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone that with the World Cup now underway loads of new and improved football/soccer offerings have arrived in the App Store. There are games, so you can practice your (virtual) skills, and apps that let you follow the matches and your team's progress through the tournament. The official FIFA World Cup app is one of the better choices.
Away from football, the App Store saw the release of two long awaited new games -- Angry Birds Epic, a new RPG featuring Rovio's famous characters, and Broken Age, a graphic adventure from legendary game designer Tim Schafer. There's also an app that lets you transform iOS devices into audio speakers, a hotel guide, and a speed reading app, to mention just some of the latest releases.
You may recall that at the end of last month, a number of iOS users were locked out of their devices by ransomware, being faced with a message that their iPhone or iPad had been "hacked by Oleg Pliss", and a demand for $100 to unlock it.
Well, the Sydney Morning Herald (via MacRumors) is now reporting that the device hijacking miscreants behind this scheme have been arrested by the Russian authorities. Some Russian folks were affected by the security incident, as well as those in Australia (and a few other countries such as the US and Canada).
In early-June, at WWDC 2014, Apple took the wraps off the latest iteration of its Mac operating system, named OS X 10.10 Yosemite. It is now undergoing beta testing, being available only to registered developers. The official launch is set for this fall.
If you want to take a peek at how OS X 10.10 Yosemite looks and some of the new features it brings on Macs, Apple has released a new video, titled The New Look of OS X Yosemite, which showcases the new OS.
Battery packs may not be the most exciting or sexiest gadgets on the market, but the LUM-008-01 Power Bank from Lumsing has a good stab at changing things. But stabbing isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when picking up this battery pack for the first time. Yes, the manufacturers "Harmonica style" description is fairly accurate but this is a unit that is rather weightier than the handheld instrument favored by blues and folk musicians. The mass of 236g (8.3oz) coupled with the way it nestles in the hand brings to mind a form of cudgel; this is a battery pack that could double as a murder weapon. Maybe that's just me... I should probably evaluate it for what it is.
Let's cut to the chase. This is a battery pack. There's a limit to how animated one can get about such a device, but Lumsing's offering gets off to a great start by being so easy on the eye. It's good to look at, and it also feels good in the hand. Style drips from every port. In all there are three ports: one USB input for charging the unit itself, and two outputs for charging other devices such as mobiles and tablets. There's one low powered 1.5 A port and one rated at 2.1 A so there's scope for charging all manner of devices.
Apple has all-but confirmed that iPhones with larger screens are on the way after developers made a discovery that allows them to simulate different screen sizes for both the smartphone and iPad.
9to5Mac reports that XCode 6 includes a new iOS simulator that allows developers to resize the simulated screen to any resolution thus leading most to suggest that this is the another step that will eventually lead to larger screen iPhones and iPads.
If you’d have asked me a week ago if I wanted a new case for my iPhone 5s, I’d have said no. I already own two cases -- an official Apple one in black, and a photo case with a picture of my daughter on. Both serve my needs perfectly. Another case? No thanks, no need.
A week later, and my view has changed completely. I have a third case, a Kloqe, and it’s the only one I’m likely to ever want or use. Kloqe is an all-aluminum affair that doesn’t interfere with phone reception, and comes in the same range of colors as the iPhone -- black, white, gray and champagne/gold. You can choose the one that matches your phone or go for something different.
While the iPad is seen as a content consumption rather than a content creation device by some, there's no denying that it has been widely adopted across many organizations, and has made an impact on the business world as well as the consumer arena.
The iPad can be a sterling productivity device -- providing you're well equipped for that prospect in terms of software and hardware, of course. Out of the box, your iPad Air doesn't make such a great partner in crime when it comes to cracking through whatever business needs you might have. So, what software and accessories do you need to be truly productive with your iPad? Read on...
The biggest news of this week came from Apple which held a keynote speech at WWDC in San Francisco. One of the major announcements was the unveiling of iOS 8 which will be making its way to iPhone and iPads around the world sometime in the Fall. There was a lot to take in, including "Hey, Siri", HealthKit and iCloud Drive. OS X also got a new lick of paint with Yosemite, with beta versions made available for immediate download. There was also an intriguing change to the App Store Review Guidelines that suggests the doors may be opened to virtual currencies such as Bitcoin.
Windows 7 continues to grow faster than Windows 8.x, but if you're looking for an alternative to Windows, Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" could be worth a try. Windows XP is still managing to hang on it there for the time being. Microsoft celebrated the news that Windows Phone is becoming increasingly popular -- if not with developers -- particularly when security is important; which is just as well, because reports suggest that handsets need to be made more secure for enterprise. Microsoft also had cause for celebration after helping the FBI to take down the Zeus botnet.
Colleague Wayne Williams is right to call out Surface Pro 3 hidden costs necessary to make a reasonable laptop replacement. There is another choice, which geeks often overlook. Surface 2 is a great value for the price, and everyone considering Apple iPad Air as a laptop replacement should look to Microsoft's tab first.
Before explaining, I start a diatribe that will continue to future posts. Geek reviewers hung up on specs and the fanciest features missing what matters more: Benefits -- to whom they are important and in what circumstances. Not everyone needs the fastest, coolest thing, or can afford it. Lower-cost is a benefit, too, and it's one too often ignored by fanboys and tech reviewers. Wayne gets it. So should you.
New features in the next iteration of the mobile OS include interactive notifications, HealthKit, Family Sharing, improved chatting, a better keyboard, and iCloud Drive. It will be released sometime in the fall.
WWDC has proven to be the big event this week, introducing the latest iteration of Apple's operating system, known as OS X Yosemite -- yes the company has moved on from big cats, it did so with Mavericks.
One of the first to take advantage of this new platform is Netflix. The streaming video service is announcing it will bring HTML5 to Safari in the new operating system. "We're excited to announce that Netflix streaming in HTML5 video is now available in Safari on OS X Yosemite! We've been working closely with Apple to implement the Premium Video Extensions in Safari, which allow playback of premium video content in the browser without the use of plugins", says Netflix.
Porn has always been big business, and online porn accounts for a staggering proportion of web traffic. The availability of always-on internet connections in the home, and near blanket use of internet-enabled mobile phones and tablets, means that it is now easier than ever to get a porn fix if you feel the urge. But have you ever wondered how all of this porn is being accessed? Well… wonder no more! Porn site (you don’t say!) PornHub conducted research after Gizmodo expressed an interest in seeing which browsers were most used by consumers of porn, and the figures make for interesting reading.
It perhaps comes as no surprise that desktop browsers prove the most popular. Some 51 percent of Pornhub's traffic comes from people using desktop computers. But, without wanting to put too many unpleasant images in your head, this leaves 49 percent of porn perusal that is enjoyed on mobile phones and tablets. You know, those devices that are easily transported to a quiet room and are rather easier to hold in one hand than a laptop...