I frequently make resolutions throughout the year, ranging from being more patient to losing some weight. However, I give technology little to no attention in this respect, which may seem a bit unusual coming from someone who writes about it for a living. But, lately, I have been thinking about making some changes, and what I could do more in regards to tech.
I do have realistic expectations, as I am in no way trying to convince myself that I will actually work on every item from this list, starting January 1. It's a fool's errand as far as I'm concerned. Instead, these are the things I would like to build towards this following year, with the end goal of steadily improving myself throughout 2014.
Unsurprisingly tablets proved to be a very popular gift this Christmas. According to mobile measurement firm Flurry, device activations were up by 63 percent on Christmas day, compared to any other average day in December.
Flurry’s activation figures cover Amazon, Apple, Acer, and Samsung and reveal an interesting trend. While all four tech firms enjoyed a major bump on the day, activations were much lower this year than in the previous two years.
This past year has been incredibly busy, and a huge amount of hardware has passed through my hands. Some of it has impressed, a lot has disappointed, but a handful was great enough to make it to my list of favorites for the year.
While I've tried out a great deal of software, this has been a year in which it has been hardware that has caught my eye. So here it is: my favorite tech from 2013.
Nokia is one of the latest hardware makers to enter the tablet market, with the Lumia 2520. It's an interesting device, that has a great display, powerful internals, 4G LTE cellular connectivity, decent internal storage, an attractive price and Windows RT 8.1 on board, that you either love or loathe. And you'd think that Nokia would want to lure consumers with these features, to get them to buy its colorful new tablet.
Like Microsoft and its first Windows RT slate, the Surface RT, Nokia went on a different path to promote the Lumia 2520. The Finnish company has released an ad which, from my point of view, does nothing to explain to consumers why they should spend their money on the device. Do not get me wrong, the ad is very interesting but the way it goes about pitching the Lumia 2520 as a good buy is very, very strange.
It's that time of year once again. Approaching the end of another 365 and a quarter days cycle puts us all in a reflective mood. It's not uncommon to look back at what has happened in the previous 12 months and pick out the highlights of the year. It's also quite common to look forward in anticipation of what the coming year might have to offer. But how about something a little different, something a little more downbeat? What have been your lowlights and disappointments? There's no need to end the year on a high, after all!
I am one of those people still devastated at the loss of Google Reader. Both as a journalist and as someone who simply devours news from all manner of sources, this was my go-to service for getting my daily -- well, hourly… oh, OK, five minutely -- fix of headlines from hundreds of websites. Double disappointment came when I thought an ideal solution was to be found in Feedly, but slow updates and a pricing structure I found objectionable meant that this soon fell by the wayside. Disappointment number two. Still, it helped me to discover InoReader -- every cloud, and all that.
Nowadays, cloud services like Pandora and Spotify allow us to listen to our favorite tunes no matter where we are, without having to actually own a single song. But what happens to our music collections, which we have built up over the years? Some of us have thousands of tracks, stored locally on devices like PCs. Should we just abandon our beloved content and embrace alternative ways of enjoying it?
Luckily, answering this question does not involve making a compromise. Cloud service Style Jukebox aims for the middle road, by providing a convenient solution that allows users to upload the music they own to the cloud and play it on PCs, smartphones and tablets. It is designed to work both with and without an Internet connection (the content can also be downloaded for offline playback), which makes it a good fit for those who use devices which are not always connected to the cloud. As Style Jukebox's motto says, "Your music, anywhere, on all your devices".
I've worked my way through a fair share of tablets over the years. An iPad 2 with its 9.7 inch screen, a Sony Tablet S with a slightly smaller 9.4 inch display, followed by a series of 7-inchers -- the Nexus 7, Tesco's Hudl and the GOCLEVER Aries 7o. Oh, and the Surface Pro; I have a tendency to forget this is a 10.6 inch tablet as I use it in laptop mode.
All of my tablets have been used for much the same things: checking email, writing the odd document, viewing photos, watching videos, updating Facebook and Twitter, browsing the web and playing a few games. Taking the Surface Pro out of the equation, I've always found the circa 10-inch tablets too big. I thought I was settled on 7 inches as offering the best dimensions. It seems I might have been wrong.
Things are starting to get festive, and that means there's also a lot going on. This past week has been quite a busy one! It might not come as a surprise, but the figures are in -- Windows 8.1 is not performing anywhere near as well as Windows 7 in terms of sales. Part of the reason for the slower adoption could be the Start screen and the absence of the Start menu. There has been some debate here at BetaNews about the possibility that the Start menu could make a return. Brian is very much opposed to the idea, I think it's probably a good idea, particularly for business users, while Wayne showed us how to get the Start menu back right now.
The backlash against NSA surveillance continues, and now Microsoft, Apple, Google and a number of other big names have joined forces and written to President Obama asking for reform. Joe was not impressed. To help protect user accounts, Microsoft beefed up security.
An old friend has been telling me for months that the future of personal computing was coming with new Windows tablets using the Bay Trail system-on-chip architecture built with Intel Silvermont cores. Silvermont is the first major Atom revision in years and is designed to be much faster. Bay Trail would lead to $199 8-inch Windows tablets while also fixing the limitations of Intel’s previous Clover Trail. Well Bay Trail units are finally shipping but my techie friend is sorely disappointed with his.
The lure of this platform for Intel is great. Manufacturers could use the same chassis and chipsets for everything except gaming boxes and servers. Eight inch tablets, ChromeBooks, Ultrabooks, 10-inch tablets, and netbooks, all one chassis with up to 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. One size fits all for home, car, travel, and work.
Google has released new factory images based on Android 4.4.2 KitKat, for the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7 and Nexus 10. This comes a couple of days after the search giant rolled out the latest update for its mobile operating system.
The Android 4.4.2 factory images allow users of said Nexus devices to install, and upgrade to, the latest KitKat version without waiting for the OTA update to arrive. They also come in handy for installing individual bits, like the radio, kernel or recovery, alongside third-party distributions.
Consumers who are in the market for a Windows RT tablet currently have two main options to choose from -- the Microsoft Surface 2 and Nokia Lumia 2520. The former has the upper hand when it comes to availability, as it is sold in a significantly larger number of markets, while the latter offers extra connectivity options -- namely 4G LTE -- and a wider color palette. But as it turns out the Lumia 2520 also has a better screen, according to a new DisplayMate test.
"With virtually identical functionality and OS software, it is the quality and performance of the displays that really differentiates these Windows Tablets", says DisplayMate CEO Dr. Raymond M. Soneira. "The display on the Nokia Lumia 2520 is impressive while the Microsoft Surface 2 is mediocre and a disappointment".
Without much fanfare, Google has added a new member to its Nexus family, but it's not what you think. For weeks now we have waited, not entirely patiently, for an updated version of the Nexus 10 tablet, enduring endless rumored release dates that have come and gone.
The new addition, however, is a white version of the Nexus 7 that was unveiled back in June at a breakfast event with Android chief Sundar Pichai. The tablet sports a white back and edges, while the face still has the familiar black bezel.
Android fans are very particular about their devices. For many, a Nexus device is the only way to go. After all, Nexus devices are usually the only way to run pure Android and get fast updates. However, what are you to do if you want the pure experience, but don't like the current offering of Nexus devices?
Google remedied that dilemma earlier this year by releasing Google Play Editions of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One. These phones run pure Android rather than the skinned versions by the handset manufacturers. Today, LG announces that its LG G Pad 8.3 is the first-ever tablet to be designated a Google Play Edition device. Will it be a Nexus 7 killer?
The main reason why 64-bit processors are needed is to utilize hardware configurations with more than 4 GB of RAM. To make this possible, the operating system also has to support the architecture, and apps have to be properly designed as well. This is the case with PCs which top the mentioned memory capacity and have the right software for it, but when it comes to mobile devices the advantages are mostly limited to bragging rights at the moment, with a few exceptions (like Microsoft's Surface Pro 2 -- it runs the 64-bit Windows 8.1 Pro and can be had with 8 GB of RAM).
Apple's iPhone 5s is the best example of why having a 64-bit processor offers no real benefits (other than allowing developers to adjust to the change): iOS 7 and the apps may support the architecture, but the smartphone ships with just 1 GB of RAM. This means that at no point is 64-bit needed, because the memory capacity does not warrant it. Former Qualcomm chief marketing officer Anand Chandrasekher was among the first to point this out, but here we are today with the US company also revealing its own 64-bit processor, dubbed Snapdragon 410.
Mere days after Android 4.4.1 was released, Google is rolling out Android 4.4.2 for compatible Nexus devices. The latest version is more of a modest upgrade, compared to its predecessor which delivered noteworthy improvements to the Nexus 5 camera, as it mostly squashes a few bugs.
Android 4.4.2 fixes issues with clearing and delivery of the VM Indicator, according to US mobile operator Sprint, and other bits of the mobile operating system. There are also security enhancements introduced in the latest version of KitKat.