Fourth in a series. Before adopting the Chromie lifestyle and declaring independence from Apple two summers ago, I primarily was a Mac user. I wrote most of the so-called anti-Apple stories (so some commentary say) on the company's laptops. Chromebook still warms my heart, but for the summer -- and likely longer -- we part ways. On June 20, I walked out of Microsoft Store San Diego with a free Surface Pro 3. But I am accidental thief; that story later.
In April, I wrote about "My two years with Chromebook", giving loads of praise. I might still use Chrome OS as my primary platform today, if not for sudden partial loss of vision -- non-diabetic macular edema in both eyes. The ailment compelled a reevaluation of my computing needs. I purchased a refurbished Surface RT preinstalled with Windows 8.1, because of the free Word, which will ease ebook publishing. I really enjoyed the user experience, much more than the Surface Pro reviewed in February 2013. Updated operating system is major reason. Also, Microsoft's ClearType improved my diminished reading ability.
At the I/O 2014 conference, Google showcased the latest version of Android, known only as L until its official launch later this year. Compared to its predecessor, KitKat, it comes with 64-bit support, design changes, the ART runtime running the show, tightened security, battery life and performance improvements, notifications tweaks, new APIs and more.
Android L may not yet be ready for prime time, but a preview version is now available for Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 (2013 Wi-Fi model), giving users the option to get comfortable with the slew of changes it introduces. Here is how you can download and install it.
Google I/O 2014 started yesterday and, thanks to a lengthy first-day keynote, the search giant has already made plenty of headlines one after another. And for good reason, as it unveiled new software, new hardware (albeit none of it was Nexus-branded) and a number of sweeping changes to its portfolio. Say what you will, but Google sure had plenty of interesting things to show without even announcing a new Nexus tablet (as we were used to in the past two years).
The amount of information from the conference is overwhelming, so here is the tl;dr version.
Third in a series. In business perception is everything. Many companies succeed or fail not because their products are great but their brands are perceived to be that way. Apple is a remarkable perception manager. Consider iPhone 5s, which features and benefits fall far behind many competing devices. Rather than innovate, the fruit-logo launches an evocative marketing campaign -- "You're more powerful than you think" -- that makes the smartphone look better. Improved. The ads are compelling because they communicate: Your life will be better, you shall achieve your dreams, by buying iPhone 5s.
Meanwhile, competitors like Microsoft truly innovate and take the kind of risks that once defined Apple. Last year I asked: "Will 2013 be another year of Apple iteration masquerading as innovation?" Yes, and halfway into another year, little is changed. The answer is the same. Last month I explained "Why Apple no longer innovates". OS X Yosemite and iOS X 8 are prettier, but so what? Meanwhile, Windows 8/8.1 is a radical rethinking of the platform -- as is Surface, which delivers refreshing change to computing. What's that long-forgotten Yellow Pages tagline? Let your fingers do the walking. They do on Surface.
"Abandonware". It’s the scourge of the industry. Every time a vendor abandons a software product, a puppy dies. Or an orphan. Or a Java developer.
Regardless, nobody likes to see their favorite app/game/platform get left behind. It’s the worst kind of techie betrayal. You spend days, weeks or even months mastering a product only to have the virtual rug pulled out from under you.
Looking for a way to access programs on your desktop or laptop from your mobile? You could go down the route of installing something like TeamViewer, but with the best will in the world, trying to control your entire Windows or Mac desktop from your mobile is a fiddly experience at best.
A more practical solution can be found by going down the Parallels Access route, and it’s one that’s just been made even better with the release of version 2.0.
Today is finally the day that the Surface Pro 3 becomes available to consumers; well, the Core i5 variants anyway. Sadly, if you are interested in the less expensive i3 model or more powerful i7 model, you will have to wait. For the past few weeks, Microsoft had been communicating an August 31 release, which is like an eternity in internet years. Consumers were faced with a dilemma -- buy the i5 now or wait for the other variants at the end of August.
Today however, Microsoft eases the wait for the i3 and i7 variants, as it actually pushes up the release date to August 1. This is amazing news and quite unique too -- the technology world usually sees release dates pushed back. Will this change your decision as to which Surface Pro 3 to buy?
Less than a month after the last Android update launched, Google is now treating Nexus users to another iteration of KitKat. It made its way to the factory images repository first, but is also slowly rolling out over-the-air to compatible smartphones and tablets.
Android 4.4.4 KitKat, build version KTU84P, is available, through a corresponding factory image, for the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, 2012 Wi-Fi Nexus 7, 2013 Wi-Fi Nexus 7, and Nexus 10. The Nexus 7 slates with cellular connectivity (3G and 4G, launched in 2012 and 2013, respectively) have yet to receive the same treatment.
Dear BetaNews readers, a poem from yours truly. Ehem. Twas the night before Surface Pro 3 release and all over the net, people were anticipating having their computing needs met. If you preordered the tablet you should be fine, but if you didn't reserve it, get up early and start waiting in line. Thank you.
Yes, tonight is the eve of the official Surface Pro 3 release. If you are buying it tomorrow, you will be very happy. However, once you turn it on, before you do anything, you should check for updates. Why, you ask? Well, earlier today, Microsoft released an important firmware update and you might as well get it out of the way. As per a Microsoft representative, here's how to get it manually:
Samsung's Galaxy Tab Pro comes with an 8.4-inch, 10.1-inch and 12.2-inch screen. I reviewed the pen-friendly foil to the largest Tab Pro, the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 earlier this year, and we've also already looked at the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4.
What you have in the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 is quite an interesting concept. A giant sized screen, in tablet format, that at £480 for the 32GB version easily costs as much as a good laptop but which lacks a lot of laptop features. There's no capacious hard drive, no physical keyboard, no support for the huge range of apps you might want to run on Windows or OS X.
You might recall that we recently reviewed the ChargeKey and ChargeCard USB charging gadgets. These are now being relaunched with an updated design using more durable materials and have had a name change to NomadKey and NomadCard -- though we’re guessing they won't recharge your camel.
There's also an extra product, the carabiner-style NomadClip that you can fit on your key chain, belt or anywhere else to ensure you’re never without a charger. It’s non-load bearing but with a steel frame and polycarbonate outer shell it should be tough enough to survive life's day-to-day knocks.
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.
Samsung is holding an event at the Theater, Madison Square Garden in New York City later today to (presumably) launch the Galaxy Tab S, and maybe additional devices. The tag line for the event is "Tab into Color".
Our own Brian Fagioli will be there, and will be reporting on all of the announcements made by the South Korean firm, but you can also be part of the event as Samsung will be live streaming proceedings.
You may recall that in mid-May South Korean maker LG announced three new slates, part of its G Pad Android lineup. At the time details were scarce, as only the display size was revealed alongside the availability of branded software add-ons like Knock Code and QPair (and, of course, their names).
Today, LG announces the roll-out of the G Pad 7.0, G Pad 8.0 and G Pad 10.1, with the 7.0 being the first to hit store shelves, in Europe, this week. The two other slates will be available starting in the next couple of weeks. Its new devices "offer just the right balance of performance, personality and price to fill the gap between entry and premium tablets", according to LG.
First in a series. My preference is to write about tech that I use -- an attitude shared among BetaNews reporters. We like to get hands-on and write with authority, from experience. That's one reason I write so little about Microsoft now, not being immersed in the company's products. Lately, mine is the Google lifestyle.
But yesterday I started using the original Surface -- the one frequently maligned by critics for so-called limitations associated with Windows RT. This is my first experience with the tab, although I reviewed and frankly loved Surface Pro. Out-of-the-box impressions are great. This is a hugely satisfying tablet, and surely the experience is better with its successor. I was right to ask 5 days ago: "Why not Surface 2?"