Early this evening, I exchanged emails with someone writing a blog post about Chromebook. He seeks sales numbers that I doubt are available. Success is a difficult measure despite the hype. In January post "The trouble with new Chromebooks" here and "Twenty-Fourteen isn't Year of the Chromebook" on my personal site, I raise questions about the computer's future.
I extend reservations in the text of my email reply, which follows.
Whenever a pundit brings up apps as an irrefutable argument for Windows Phone weaknesses, platform fanboys and apologists quickly point out they could not care less about whatever the Store is then lacking. They may also say that there already are good alternatives available, and major titles -- that are popular on Android and iOS -- are not really that important, when you have live tiles to look at all day. Basically, such an argument is, therefore, a pathetic excuse to bash their beloved platform.
Instagram? "No, thanks, that is for hipsters". Candy Crush? "I do not need that lame game on my Windows Phone as there are better ones available". "Oh, and you are an iPhone/Android fanboy for mentioning this!". You get the gist. But after we get off the comments train, we see that whenever Windows Phone gets a popular app, it quickly rises to the top of the Store. Yes, these users, of which I am proud to be one, do crave major titles, just like everyone else.
Europol, the law enforcement agency for the European Union, is warning that people should exercise extreme caution when using WiFi hotspots when out and about. Citing an increase in the number of "man-in-the-middle" attacks on such connections, the head of Europol's cybercrime division, Troels Oerting, said that public WiFi connections are being used to "steal information, identity or passwords and money from the users who use [them]". The advice is to not necessarily stop using public networks, but to avoid using them for anything that involves transmitting personal data.
Singled out for particular attention is online banking, which Oerting suggests people should do "from home where they know actually the wi-fi and its security" rather than in a coffee shop. Europol is currently working with several member states of the European Union following an increase in the number of WiFi network attacks.
Ninth in a series. This week Google updated its Gmail app, adding background refresh, so it can now fetch new mail even when it’s not open. This is a great addition, and stops you having to manually refresh to check for new messages. Google also added simplified sign-in. Log in to any Google app -- Gmail, Maps, Google+ or Chrome, for example -- and your account details will be used to log you in to all other Google apps automatically.
Of the new apps that have arrived in the store this week, there's a great, easy to use file transfer tool, an app that will help you monitor and (maybe) manage your caffeine consumption, a social local discovery tool, a dance game, and a cartoon racer that will let you go head to head against Top Gear's The Stig.
Remote access toolkits (RATs) for Android are nothing new, but until now they've mostly targeted the Asia region.
Now researchers at mobile security specialist Lookout have uncovered Dendroid, a custom RAT aimed at users in western countries. Dendroid’s author is selling the toolkit online with payment in virtual currencies like Bitcoin and even offers a warranty promise that it will remain undetected.
Windows Phone may be seeing new, popular titles launched in Store, like Facebook Messenger, Instagram and Vine, but the tiled smartphone operating system continues to lack some notable apps. The reason is major developers are still waiting for the platform to gain more traction before committing.
YouTube is absent, but there are a couple of good clients available that nearly make up for it. But, when it comes to Dropbox a decent selection is virtually non-existent. Part of the reason is the cloud storage service is focusing its resources in mobile on Android and iOS, like many other major companies, and (probably the majority of) Windows Phone users are in OneDrive's backyard already, whether they like it or not. But, if they choose to embrace Dropbox now they can turn to CloudSix for Dropbox.
Benchmarks are important. With so much choice in the world of computers, smartphones and tablets, a key factor for potential buyers to bear in mind is raw performance. A few months back benchmarking stalwarts Futuremark took the unusual step of delisting a number of handsets produced by HTC and Samsung after tests appeared to show that the phone artificially boosted performance when they detected benchmarking software was running. Now it looks as though this apparent cheating has come to an end.
Back in October, results published on Anantech showed how a number of popular phones seemed to be cheating the system, giving consumers a false representation of real-world handset performance. Now, according to new tests carried out by Ars Technica it would appear that handsets are behaving in a far more reasonable fashion after being updated to KitKat.
After being forced to drop the SkyDrive name following a legal dispute with UK broadband provider Sky, Microsoft relaunched its cloud storage service, last month, under a new, yet somewhat familiar moniker, OneDrive. Rebranded apps quickly hit Android, iOS, OS X and Windows Phone, adding new features in the process.
With the OneDrive roll-out almost complete, BlackBerry (yes, that is right) just introduced the cloud storage service on its own platform, BlackBerry 10. The move effectively gives Microsoft access to more potential customers, and allows OneDrive to better rival the availability of other market competitors, like Box.
Windows Phone head Joe Belfiore spoke last year of the Windows Phone app gap, claiming that it would end before the start of 2014. Unfortunately for the platform, that has not turned out to be accurate as there are still lots of great titles that are either missing from Store or offered in a half-baked version on the tiled operating system. The good news is the app gap is actually closing, albeit slowly (and not anytime soon).
Microsoft revealed at MWC 2014 Facebook Messenger will launch on Windows Phone, and the app is finally available in Store today. This is one of the most important wins for the platform, as the service is hugely popular in many markets.
I went for a 5k run before starting work this morning, and as always Zombies, Run! provided me with the motivation required to not come to a stop, bored, after ten minutes. I’ve covered the immersive app several times in the past, but if you’re not familiar with it, Zombies, Run! basically turns a real-world jog into a journey through the zombie apocalypse. Episodic stories unfold in between tracks from your playlist as you run.
There are plenty of episodes on offer for regular runners, and a radio mode will give you something to listen to once you’ve finished with the main story and side quests. However, sooner or later you’ll have listened to everything and be ready for new tales, and the good news is they’re on their way.
There are few people who like ads. Sure, they can be works of art -- certainly there are some advertisements that are infinitely better than a lot of the dirge pumped out by television networks -- but while advertisements on television can be fairly easily avoided (thank you TiVo -- other PVRs are available!) it is a different matter on a computer or mobile device. "Opting" to watch a mindblowing ad for Apple, Guinness or Honda is one thing, but to have unavoidable -- and usually crappy -- advertisements forced upon you whilst browsing the web or using an application is an entirely different matter.
There are groups of people who are happy to endure these adverts because they fund apps, and make it possible for developers to provide their hard work free of charge -- you may fall into this group and have perhaps been able to configure an automatic ad filter for your eyes. But there are larger legions for whom ads are just plain, damned irritating. In some instances it is possible to pay to avoid them, but this is not always the case. If BlackBerry and Yahoo get their way, advertisements are going to become rather more noticeable.
When Nokia officially unveiled its X smartphones it was clear the Finnish company intended its new Android lineup to look similar to Lumia Windows Phones. The internals may be on the low-end side, but the hardware design looks just as premium, undoubtedly aided by the funky colors, and the software... well, the homescreen interface resembles the Windows Phone tiles, which is the dead giveaway as far as this writer can tell.
Some may rightfully point out that X smartphones are superior to Lumias in one major area -- apps. Courtesy of the mature Android ecosystem, Nokia's droids are compatible with hundreds of thousands of offerings, which is more than Windows Phone can tout. It would make sense for Nokia to encourage developers to make their apps more like those on Windows Phone to warm repeat customers to the idea of upgrading to one of its higher-end smartphones, which run Microsoft's tiled operating system. But, Nokia has other plans.
Travel and expenses management is an obvious candidate for cloud applications since, by its very nature, it deals with people who are out of the office.
With the latest update to its Cloud for Travel and Expense solution, ERP specialist SAP adds new capabilities that improve and simplify the user experience. The system covers everything from online booking through receipt capture to expense reimbursements.
Eighth in a series. The app that’s got me most excited this week isn’t even out yet. Audio Defence: Zombie Arena, from the makers of Papa Sangre II, is an audio-only first person zombie shooter that promises to be awesome. If it can hit its Kickstarter target that is.
Of the new and updated apps that have arrived in the store this week, the Professor Layton inspired The Voyage is a great puzzler, and God of Light will similarly tax your gray matter. Parents worried about what their children get up to on the web while using an iPad (or iPhone), will be interested in the MetaCert browser. Google has improved its Hangouts messenger apps, and a chunk of the world's knowledge has been curated into Learnist.
I was a beta tester for Papa Sangre II, the excellent audio-only game for iOS (if you’ve yet to try it I can whole-heartedly recommend it -- Sean Bean stars) and am a massive fan of Zombies Run, an audio fitness app, that you listen to while running and which takes place following a zombie apocalypse.
So naturally, the news that Papa Sangre’s creators Somethin' Else are working on a zombie-based audio-only first person shooter has me in a heightened state of excitement.