Yesterday was unquestionably the day of the tablet. Nokia unveiled the Lumia 2520, its first Windows RT 8.1 slate, Apple announced the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display, and Microsoft’s Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 went on sale.
It was unfortunate timing for Microsoft. On a day when Steve Ballmer and co. would have hoped people would be talking about Surface, they were salivating over Apple instead. The fruit logo company inflicted more damage on Microsoft than just drawing focus for a day however.
When you spend a sizable amount of money on a device, it's understandable that you wish to have a bit of insurance on your investment, and a fair amount of us do that by purchasing a protective case. Apple is no stranger to the accessory market and today pushes it a bit further, announcing new offerings for its latest iPad devices.
These protective wombs for your tablet are available in a range of colors. The Smart Covers for iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display will retail for $39, and hit the market in a choice of blue, green, pink, yellow, black and red.
It was a feature-packed morning of announcements where it seems as though Apple was going to give away everything for free. Sadly the freebies are limited to software and the new range of hardware has to be purchased in the regular way. The big news for tablet fans is the iPad Air. Borrowing its name -- in part at least -- from the MacBook Air range, thinner and faster are the adjectives of the day.
Phil Schiller said: "Thinner, lighter, more powerful than ever before, and incredibly, excitingly new that it deserves a new name: iPad Air". Boasting the same A7 processor as the recently announced iPhone 5s, the iPad Air is just 7.5mm thick and weighs 1 pound -- compare this to 9.4mm and 1.4 pounds for the previous model. Despite the thinner design and smaller battery size, we can still expect 10 hours of usage from the tablet which offers up to eight times the performance of the original iPad, and up to 72 times the GPU performance.
It's only a matter of weeks since the last big Apple event at which the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c were announced. Today we have another event to look forward to and while we're not absolutely certain of what's going to be unveiled, the clever money is on the iPad 5, a new iPad mini, new Mac and release details for Mavericks.
Who knows… maybe there'll even be "one more thing"!
When a big tech company live streams a launch event, we usually embed it here for readers to sit back and enjoy. Apple likes to make things difficult though. At last month’s iPhone event it didn’t bother providing a live stream, and you can only watch today’s iPad event if you’re one of the Apple faithful.
To be fair, the restrictions on today’s live stream should surprise no one. It’s exactly the same deal as the iPad reveal last year -- you need to be watching on Apple TV or using Safari 4 on Mac OS X 10.6 or later, or iOS 4.3 or later.
More and more business users are shunning a traditional desktop or laptop for tablets and smartphones. While tablets are great for consuming information, with the help of keyboard attachments, they are sufficient at creation too. However, tablets and smartphones are very personal devices; they are not optimized to handle a conference call for multiple users. Today, Logitech announces a product designed to solve this dilemma -- the Mobile Speakerphone P710e.
The company says, "with the Mobile Speakerphone, you can be more productive with hands-free access to your mobile device of choice and an integrated experience for video conferencing and conference calls. Whether you’re hosting your noon conference call using your mobile device in a hotel room or joining a call from a conference room in your local office with your PC, the Logitech Mobile Speakerphone is the ideal travel companion for the mobile employee or small business owner".
Microsoft's big release of the day may be Windows 8.1, but it doesn't end there. The desktop operating system may have stolen the headlines today, but Microsoft also recognizes the importance of mobile devices. The company is not only concerned with its own devices, realizing that Apple and Android still dominate the mobile arena. But this does not mean that mobile users do not need access to Windows PCs -- hence the release of Microsoft Remote Desktop for iOS and Android.
The prospect of running Windows on an Android or iOS device may be a little way off yet, but it can be achieved via remote access -- which has the handy side effects of making it possible to access files, apps and anything else that might be needed whilst away from your computer. There is no shortage of remote desktop apps in the App Store, but Microsoft's offering aims to keep things simple. As you would expect, this is an app -- free of course -- that can be used to control a Windows PC from an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Android device.
When it comes to fire, you can never be too safe. Sadly, I know all too well. You see, I once lived through a fire that destroyed my apartment and all of my belongings. While it was a devastating event, I came out of it uninjured and with a new respect for fire safety.
Today, Nest announces a new product that combines technology with not only fire safety but carbon monoxide protection too.
Many people are settling into the idea that a 7 inch screen is the ideal size for a tablet. The extra screen space provided by a 10 inch model sounds great in theory, but it does result in a device that is slightly more cumbersome to take from place to place. Looked at in terms of portability, 7 inches is perfect -- large enough to make most tasks easy, but small enough to easily slip into a bag, if not necessarily a pocket.
The slightly smaller size also makes an important difference to the price tag, and there is a burgeoning market for tablets of this size. It is interesting to see that as the screens of phones gradually get larger and larger, the general trend for the tablet is to shrink -- the two are on a collision course!
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is calling on the games industry to avoid pressuring children into making in-app purchases in games and potentially running up large bills. Back in April, an investigation began into the ways in which children are pressured into making in-app purchases. 38 web and app-based games thought to appeal to children were looked at, and the results of the investigation are available in the Children's Online Games report.
The OFT aimed to determine whether the way in-app purchases were presented could be considered "misleading, aggressive or otherwise unfair". As a result of the investigation, the OFT has drawn up a set of eight proposed principles that apps and games should follow. The principles include clearly and prominently informing app users about the potential for costs to be incurred through the app. It is suggested that users should be able to fully understand the current and future costs associated with any app they download.
Some habits are hard to kick. Even though the world is trending towards a digital lifestyle, many business users still use Post-it Notes. I am guilty of using these low-tech pieces of paper daily. Sometimes, I need to quickly jot-down a note or phone number; a piece of paper can be faster than unlocking my smartphone or workstation. However, at the end of the day, I find my desk littered with these things. I have often wished for an easy way to transfer them to my computer.
Apparently, I am not alone as today, Evernote announces a partnership with Post-it which aims at organizing these notes. The company says, "for us at Evernote, Post-it Notes are a Hero Product. We strive for the sort of flexible, instantly-understandable usefulness that draws hundreds of millions of people to purchase Post-it brand products. There is one drawback. As ubiquitous as they are, they’re also, well, attached to stuff. That’s where Evernote comes in. Evernote is giving Post-it Notes a digital life and whole new set of tricks".
Twitter announces details of its new Twitter Alerts service which will make it possible to disseminate information when other methods fail or when large groups of people need to be notified about something. What does this mean? In times of national emergency, crisis or natural disaster, Twitter Alerts could be used to provide details about what is happening and what steps are being taken by authorities.
In times of emergency, it is very common for people to turn to the internet. But as we know all too well, the internet is home to a wealth of misinformation so this could end up to be less helpful than it should be. A number of international organizations have already signed up to be part of Twitter Alerts including the American Red Cross, FEMA, the World Health Organization, and various police and fire departments. Other interested organizations are invited to take part.
Michael has recorded a video demonstrating a few proofs of concept which leaves iPad and iPhone users open to potential attack. His example scenarios are purposefully harmless -- he has opted to show how opening an email could lead to an app being opened without permission or instigate a tweet or SMS (although it is not sent without confirmation) -- but the security hole is going to make many users feel uneasy.
The release of iOS 7 seems like as good a time as any to reassess the mobile operating system market, and this is precisely the thinking of Pfeiffer Consulting. The firm pitted Android, Blackberry 10, iOS 7, iOS 6 and Windows Phone 8 head to head (to head to head to head), comparing the aspects of the OS that have direct impact on user experience. Rated in four key areas, Windows Phone 8 came bottom of the list in terms of overall usability.
The results are quite damning. Looking at what the report terms "cognitive load" (how easy it is to pick up the OS), Windows Phone 8 actually fared well, receiving the same rating as iOS 7 and being praised for its "streamlined user interface". However the OS is criticized for reducing the overall user experience and efficiency.
Now here's a blast from the past. RealNetworks (remember it?) is launching RealPlayer Cloud, a new service that aims to make it easier than ever to share videos between devices and across platforms. The service has been developed to help avoid the need to transfer videos from one device to another or upload them to an online storage repository ready to download elsewhere.
The idea is that users do not have to worry about the platform videos will be viewed on, or the format they are saved in. There are a huge number of video codecs in use, so the appeal of something that helps to overcome compatibility issues is understandable. There are plenty of services that already make it possible to stream video wirelessly from a PC to an iPad or other device. This is nothing new, nor is the ability to pick up from where you left off watching when you switch devices.