Google is the undisputed search king, but it is not the only player in town. Microsoft's Bing is a distant second, but some people prefer it. While I prefer Google's offering for search, I like Bing for one thing -- rewards.
Yes, Bing Rewards is pretty darn cool, as it provides perks to users for simply using the service. This is a win-win relationship as users earn points for searching and Microsoft gains search activity. Users can then redeem points for things like raffles and gift cards. Sadly though, the experience was not available for mobile -- until today. Microsoft releases Bing Rewards for iOS and Android. Shockingly, Windows Phone is not yet supported.
Bad news for Microsoft today, as a new report that was just released by research firm Strategy Analytics places its smartphone operating system, Windows Phone, at less than 4 percent market share in 2013. It may be in an honorable third place, but, by contrast, Apple's iOS, which ranks second, had a market share of 15.5 percent in the same period, while Android, the most popular of the bunch, dominated the landscape from afar with 78.9 percent market share in the past year.
In 2013, shipments of smartphones running Windows Phone reached just 35.7 million units, leading to a low market share of 3.6 percent. Overall, a previous Strategy Analytics report released earlier this week places smartphone shipments in 2013 close to one billion units (990 million, to be exact). The tiled mobile OS grew in both shipments and market share compared to 2012, from 18.8 million and 2.7 percent, respectively, but has yet to reach a threatening position to its more popular rivals, even for iOS which has been losing market share in major markets across the globe.
Google has rolled out Chrome for iOS 32, a major new release of its alternative browser for iPhone and iPad users. Version 32 introduces a new translation bar for pages written in foreign languages, plus promises to reduce bandwidth usage by up to 50 percent.
It also sees the first phase of a new feature that will update the New Tab page to speed up future searching, and includes the usual gamut of fixes and improvements.
Fourth in a series. Unsurprisingly, after last week’s post-holiday rush of big and important new releases and updates, things have quietened down a little in the App Store.
There’s the usual collection of interesting apps and games, of course, but nothing massively groundbreaking this time around. That said, as ever, I’ve found plenty of apps to take up space on both my iPad and iPhone 5s.
What's that? Another music streaming service? Another one?! You could be forgiven for having this reaction to the news that Dr Dre's Beats Music is now available for iOS and Android; this is a market that is already rather saturated, and music lovers are not exactly short of options when it comes to picking a service to satiate their audio needs. So any new service vying for attention has to have something rather unique to offer if it is going to stand out from the competition.
Beats Music does have a unique selling point. It is a service that is about more than just streaming music, it aims to deliver the right music according to the time of day, what you are doing and where you are. Is this sort of stream tailoring enough to win over music fans? Only time will tell, but Beats Music certainly has a fight on its hands if it is to wrestle users away from the existing services that have been established for some time.
The phablet. It's a device with a silly name, but it's a market that is gaining massive momentum. Analysis by Juniper Research suggests that the number of larger-screened devices that ship will rocket by 600 percent by 2018. Projected figures show shipments jumping from around 20 million devices in 2013, to 120 million five years later. But taking into account the loose definition of a phablet it is possible that the figures could be even higher.
In fact there is no "official" definition of a phablet, at least in terms of the size of screen a device must sport in order to qualify for the title. Juniper Research acknowledges that phones with very large screens are increasingly common, with many high-end handsets featuring 5 inch - 5.5 inch displays. For the purposes of its report, Juniper Research uses the term phablet to refer to handsets that have a screen size between 5.6 inches and 6.9 inches.
VideoLAN’s popular media player VLC for iOS has been upgraded to 2.2 with a revamped iOS 7-style interface, along with new multi-touch gestures for easier navigation.
Google Drive integration and Dropbox streaming should make it much easier to access your media. And if that’s not enough, the new build also adds support for HTTP Live Streaming, m3u streams and https playback.
Third in a series. The holiday season is well and truly behind us now and there's lots of big and important new releases and updates in the App Store this week. One of the most significant is a new app from Google which sees the search giant challenging Apple’s own iTunes Store (albeit with some very important Apple-appeasing limitations).
Elsewhere, cloud storage service Box announced that it has rewritten its app to make it "super-fast, simpler to use and more immersive", and as an incentive for users to try it out the app now comes with 50 GB of storage for free, which definitely makes it worth the download. You can read more about the update here.
It seems to be a big day for cloud storage. Earlier Google added additional functionality to its Drive product. Now Box has an update of its own, though this new release is geared towards the mobile crowd, bringing more storage to those on iOS devices.
Additional cloud storage isn't all that's included, though. "We've overhauled our app to make it super-fast, simpler to use and more immersive. The result, we believe, is the best content viewing and collaboration experience available today for your iOS device".
It was announced very casually with very little fanfare. Twitter is getting a new look. It is in the process of rolling out around the world and when the revamped interface hits your account you'll find that the new look closely mimics that found in the iOS and Android apps. The redesign follows a recent update to the mobile apps, and while there are not many dramatic changes, the standardized look helps to create a more uniform experience moving between devices.
The tweet composition section is now found to the left hand side of the screen -- gone is the pop-up box in favour of an inline option. The two-column design has a very neat look to it, and does an excellent job of keeping related data together. The left hand column houses the profile box and composition field, and beneath this you'll find suggestions for who to follow, as well as a list of trending topics.
There has been a lot of talk about 2014 being the year of wearable tech. I'm yet to try out Google glass, but I can see its appeal -- providing the price drops a little! -- yet what interests me are smart versions of existing things we already wear. (I will grant you that Glass kind of falls into this category, but not everyone wears glasses) There have been quite a lot of smart watches over the last year, but they have a tendency to be rather ugly, bulky, or require an additional, specific device in order to function correctly. Yes, Galaxy Gear, I'm pointing at you.
But things are starting to evolve quite nicely. The new Pebble Steel is a spectacular smart watch that overcomes the looks issue that has blighted other models. The three models -- black leather, stainless steel and black matte -- all look great, and don’t stand out for the wrong reasons. This is a smart watch that looks like a watch rather than a smart watch, and this is where wearable technology stands or falls. An incredible piece of technology should be capable of just blending in and getting on with its job rather than jumping up, grabbing your eyeballs and demanding LOOK AT ME!
This was a week dominated by CES, and there were a huge number of announcements about upcoming hardware. Lenovo took the wraps off the (slightly) heavyweight ThinkPad Tablet 8, but any excess weight was countered by the ultra-light ThinkPad X1 Carbon ultrabook. HP's range of business desktops even included one device running Android, while Nvidia's new Tegra K1 promises much for the mobile market.
Competitor Qualcomm revealed two processors designed for entertainment while Pure's Connect platform opens up the possibility of using any streaming music service with its wireless speakers. Smart TVs are set to benefit from the addition of Roku software, but it seems that the technology du jour is 4K, with a new 4K laptop from Toshiba joining the streams of 4K TVs and monitors.
Second in a series. Big news for Apple this week as the tech giant announces that App Store sales topped $10 billion in 2013, including over $1 billion in December alone. iOS users downloaded almost three billion apps in that one month, which is an incredible figure.
Now the holidays are over, it’s back to business in the App Store, and lots of new apps have been released or updated and there are loads of great new games out too.
While the rest of the tech world is announcing hot new products at CES, Apple has chosen this time to reveal some app sales figures in the hope of generating a little press of its own. As you’d expect the numbers it’s offering today are pretty spectacular.
In December iOS users downloaded almost three billion apps, which Apple says makes it the most successful month in the history of the App Store.
Windows Phone may have managed to overtake Apple's iPhone in a small number of markets, based on sales, and become the third most popular smartphone operating system, but it -- and the devices that run it -- do not get much love from US consumers who are still buying Android smartphones and iPhones in droves.
Based on a new report from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, in the US Windows Phone continues to struggle to gain considerable traction as the OS only had a paltry 4.7 percent market share, in the three months ending November 2013. This may represent a whopping 80.76 percent increase compared to the same period from 2012, but it is not large enough to even remotely threaten the local dominance of either Android or iOS. The results of the report are based on smartphone sales.