While there are many fairly specialized mobile apps out there, Yo, which was just launched by Life Before Us, takes the cake for being the narrowest-focused messaging service available on Android and iOS now.
Why? Because Yo can only be used to say "Yo" to your contacts. As you can imagine, it does not even trigger a keyboard when you want to hit a friend with a message, as a touch of a button will do the trick (Life Before Us touts this as a feature, in case you are wondering why the heck I am mentioning it).
Amazon today unveiled the latest entrant to the smartphone race -- the Fire phone. The handset continues the Fire name that is more readily associated with Amazon's range of Android tablets, and it has a few tricks up its sleeve to make it stand out from the competition. A press event in Seattle brought to an end weeks of rumor and speculation as the phone, which features Dynamic Perspective that allows for maps and other images to be displayed in three dimensions, was revealed.
Run by four ultra-low power specialized cameras and four infrared LEDs, Dynamic Perspective has numerous uses. One application makes it possible for users to gain a different perspective on an image or object on screen by moving their heads. In games, a move of the head can be used to switch views, and there is scope for unique navigation options within apps. Some applications are slightly simpler, and mimic those found in other handsets such as Samsung's Galaxy range. For example, auto-scroll allows for easy reading of lengthy documents and web pages without the need for swiping.
Microsoft has released Skype for iPhone 5.0, a major new update to its voice, video and chat messenger for iPhone and iPod touch users. Version 5.0 sports a major new redesign, more in-app options and drops support for iOS 7.
The update has been released separately to the iPad version, with Microsoft claiming to be "hard at work on a new version" for iPad users.
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.
Most everyone, at least the tech-savvy who read this, are familiar with VLC Player -- the Video LAN Client. It's a jack-of-all trades media player, that is capable of handling pretty much any format you can throw at it, no matter how obscure it may be.
Now the developers of the project are revealing one more feature that is on the roadmap -- support for Chromecast. The question was asked on the forums and lead developer Felix Paul Kuehne responded that support was in the works. "Yep, this is exactly what we are up to", he states.
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.
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.
Bored with your iPhone’s camera? Fed up with taking dull, listless shots? Apalon Apps may have something for you, with its new Camera Fx8 Free app.
The app, a cut-down version of the existing Camera Fx8 (currently 99c in the App Store), allows users to apply filters and shapes to both live and previously taken photos. These can then be saved to the camera roll and shared via Twitter or email.
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...
With the arrival of Windows Phone 8.1, the tiled smartphone operating system has gained a significant number of great new features, turning into a much more powerful and able rival to the more-popular Android and iOS. But, no matter how good it may be, top developers still treat Windows Phone as a second-tier platform, that seemingly warrants little to no attention.
Windows Phone head Joe Belfiore has spoken of the so-called app-gap going away. Well, sorry, Joe, that is not going to happen. Tough luck. Deal with it. Why? Because top tier developers still release the latest features on Android and iOS first, leaving Windows Phone users waiting, and waiting, and then waiting some more for the "cutting-edge" to arrive -- that is, if that ever happens and the app is not abandoned in the meantime.
Yosemite! Woo! iOS 8! Yay! New way of programming! Huzzah! These were the obvious highlights of Apple's WWDC keynote yesterday, but as the dust settles there are some additional interesting tidbits emerging. As this was a developer conference, it should come as no surprise that the announcements and revelations have the most immediate impact on developers -- but things will also filter down to users. One change that was not given any fanfare at the WWDC is an alteration to Apple's App Store Review Guidelines which paves the way for virtual currency support.
The guidelines themselves are surprisingly easy to read -- this document is nothing like an EULA! But if you'd like to cut to the chase, jump to 11.17 in the "Purchasing and currencies" section. Here you'll find the advice that "Apps may facilitate transmission of approved virtual currencies provided that they do so in compliance with all state and federal laws for the territories in which the app functions". There is no reason that this possible virtual currency support should not include Bitcoin, although the currency has not been specifically mentioned.
No week would be complete without a little Windows news, and this week was no different. A registry hack emerged that should make it possible to receive updates for the no-longer-supported Windows XP right up until 2019. Microsoft later spoiled the fun by pointing out that it could lead to problems as the updates that would be made available as a result of implementing the hack would not be designed for regular desktop versions of Windows XP.
Last week we were wondering why it took eBay quite so long to warn users to update their passwords after a security breach earlier in the year. This week we discovered that it was because the company was under the impression that no user data had been accessed. Apple forgot to renew its SSL certificate, and in another Apple-related security story, a hacker managed to take control of iOS and Mac devices, and hold them ransom. To console itself, the company then splashed the cash on Beats Music -- Joe pondered whether this was just another indication of Apple's lack of innovation.
Coast, from Norwegian developer Opera, is a browser designed specifically for iPhones and iPads. Unlike other browsers it’s been built for simplicity. Instead of buttons, the app uses swipes for navigation. Gestures have replaced the typical functions. Despite this ease, Coast offers most of the features you could want, including a powerful, intuitive search and address bar that suggests keywords and site thumbnails as you type.
I spoke to Coast's creator, Huib Kleinhout, about the browser and his plans for the future.
Ever wished you could receive notifications from your iPhone or iPad apps on your Mac? While some -- typically network-based ones like iCloud updates or Twitter notifications -- get channeled to both devices, what happens if you’re relying on receiving an important reminder from your mobile, but get distracted while working on your Mac?
The answer -- of sorts -- lies with Notifyr, a cross-platform solution that uses Bluetooth to channel iOS-specific notifications to your Mac via its own Notification Center.
Holding a device for ransom is a scary practice. Hackers seize control, and then ask the owner to pay a fee to unlock it. If the victim does not comply with their demand, there is little that can be done to regain access to private data, which may include sensitive information like bank account passwords, photos, work documents and so on. Some people cave in, paying the hackers. Others refuse and end up losing everything on their device.
Some Australian Apple users are reporting they are dealing with a hacker (or group of hackers) that goes by the name Oleg Pliss, that holds their iOS and Mac devices for ransom, demanding a certain fee (initial reports say $100) to relinquish control. Affected Apple devices have been locked through Find My iPhone, a tool that lets users track their enrolled iOS and Mac devices, basically rendering them useless.