Apple Watch

Apple Watch

After lots of rumours Apple have at last announced their first smartwatch, but is this just an expensive gimmick or a tech breakthrough?

Dif Versions OF Apples Watch

What is it?

This is Apples latest attempt to reinvent the world of technology, and persuade you in to emptying your banks. Scepticism aside, the Apple Watch might just surprise everyone, and not just because its not called the iWatch.

Whys that then?

apple watch activity appBecause it’s jammed packed with features that sound really good. It can runs apps, will notify you when you get a message just like all good smartwatches, but apple have put there stamp on the smartwatch with things like a touchscreen that is ‘force-sensitive’, this allows the screen to distinguish between a light tap or a press. To control what’s on the screen you use a dial on the side which Apple have called the Digital Crown, it also has a heart-rate tracker which can be used to measure things like calories burned.

One of the most impressive innovations would have to be the ‘Taptic Engine’; that tells you when you have a notification, by tapping you on the wrist. Apple has said you will feel a tactile sensation and each notification interaction is recognisably different.” It can even act as a walking navigation aid, tapping a different pattern on your wrist when you need to turn left or right. These do sound like genuinely useful features and not just gimmicks, and at the very least should help reduce the number of smartphone zombies lumbering blindly through the streets.

The watch does look nice, with its stainless steel case and can be used with any of the stylish straps making is easy to find a style to suite everyone’s taste. And best of all it tells the time

Apples Video Introducing Apple Watch

Do you need any other Apple products to use it?

You need to have an iPhone 5 (or later) to ‘pair’ with the watch. That’s not the only drawback. Experts are suspicious about battery life, as Apples boss Tim Cook never mentioned this at the watches reveal. An Apple source has said it will need to be charged every day.

How much will it cost?

When it launches in the US next year it will be around $349, that converts to around £215, but is most likely to be priced a lot higher when it arrives in the UK next year. There is also the Edition range comprising of six 18-carat gold watches with a polished sapphire crystal display. Apple have yet to say just how much they are going to be, but my guess is a lot, so if you want one you had better get saving now!!!!

Is it like wearing an iPhone on your wrist?

Time Cook said at the big reveal they did not want to just shrink the iPhone and strap it on your wrist. Smartwatches are portable computers like a smartphone is the screens are just way to small, But they can be a very usefull companion to a smartphone or tablet.

Should you buy one?

Not if you are an Android users, you will have to wait till a decent watch running Android Wear. The new Moto 360 for £199.99 looks good.
Even if you are an iOS user, I would wait till the second version so they can work out all of the bugs.

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Windows Cloud

Windows Cloud

There are rumours on the web suggesting Microsoft could be working on a web-only version called Windows Cloud. I will try and explain how that could work.

Windows Cloud

What is it?

An online version of Microsoft Windows OS, that would store most of the tools in the ‘Cloud”. It’s all just rumours at the moment, but the Russian blogger WZor who leaked the information has a good track record of Windows scoops, like the accurate screenshot of Windows 8.1 update.

How would Windows Cloud work?

Rumours have suggested Windows Cloud would be in two parts, one part would be stored on your PCs hard drive like normal and would contain all the data needed to boot your PC. The second part would be stored in the cloud, and hold your account details and settings.

Would it be similar to Chrome OS?

It sounds like it will be, Google’s Chrome OS only gives you a complete operating system when it is connected to the internet, it only gives you basic tools when you are not – a bit like Windows Starter, the striped down version of Microsoft’s Windows OS that started to appear on some notebooks. If Windows Cloud does come out, it would be aimed at people that use web services more than installing software on their computer. Any online version of Windows would in all properly work closely with Microsoft’s range of online Office tools: http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/online

Hasn’t Microsoft criticised Chrome OS?

In November last year Microsoft posted an online video that mocked the limited potential of the cromebook, which was part of their anti-Google campaign “Scroogled”. In the video the Pawn-shop owner examines the Chromebook and then goes on to say “When you’re not connected to the internet, it’s pretty much a brick”. Google should be flattered though as Microsoft would only attack something they consider a serious rival. Ironically In April Microsoft added Office Online apps to Google’s Chrome Web Store, which provided shortcuts to Microsoft’s apps for people using Chromebooks.

What does that tell us?

That Microsoft is keen to get more people to use their cloud services, no mater what device they have. In February Satya Nadella held his first press briefing as CEO, “Mobile-first, cloud-first world” (www.snipca.com/11929) in it he stressed how he wanted to make Windows available from virtually anywhere, because people are “not bound, to one device or one place anymore”.

So how accurate are the rumours?

It’s hard to say, but analysts have agreed Windows Cloud would make sense.
Editor Max Cooter at cloud-computing website Cloud Pro (www.cloudpro.co.uk) thinks Windows Cloud is “very likely” to appear, and that it will be “radical with some genuinely innovative features”. But he also goes on to say that it may not appear anytime soon: “Microsoft has a history of their products taking longer than expected to develop”. Other experts have pointed out Windows Cloud would be a sensible way to target the growing number of people that use their phones and tablets.

I would have to agree with these views. The top dogs at Microsoft have realised by adding web-based versions of Windows could be the key to the operating systems survival, But I don’t expect an announcement anytime soon.

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Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon has already revolutionised the way you read books, now they have their eyes set on your TV with their Amazon Fire TV but is it worth Getting?

Amazon Fire TV Homescreen

Amazon’s own video-streaming service will be found front and centre , but other services in the UK version will hopefully include Netflix and YouTube

What is it?

A set-top box that connects wirelessly to the internet, so you can then access Amazon’s own online streaming services, as well as being able to access music, films and television services from other providers like Netflix or YouTube. Essentially it’s Amazons own Apple TV.

When is it due to launch?

Amazons Fire TV is already available in the US and can be purchased from Amazon for around $99 (around £60), as of yet there is no UK release date but am sure it will be available soon.

Why would you need one?

Digital TV is not going anywhere, but more and more broadcasters are delivering programmes, films and music via the web. If you don’t already have a Smart TV, and you wanted to be able to access content this way on your current TV this would be a good option.

How does it compare to the competition?

Amazon Fire TV is a set-top box that lets you access apps and online content through your TV

Amazon Fire TV is a set-top box that lets you access apps and online content through your TV

There main competition are the Apple TV (£79.99), Roku 3 (£99), WD TV Play (£79.99) and Google’s Chromecast (£30). Its has been rumoured that Google are developing another device, known as Android TV but details are scarce at this time.

When you compare the Amazon Fire TV to its rivals, the Fire TV is more powerful; its specs include a quad-core processor, optional joypad accessory, so you can turn it in to a mini games console. Only a hand full of games are available for the Fire TV at the moment, the biggest one being Minecraft.

The Fire TV allows you to use voice recognition, so you can search for content using your voice. I have yet to see just how well it actually works, but if it works well, it will spare you the frustration of using an on screen keyboard, and make searching for content faster.

Should you get one?

There are a few things you should bear in mind when thinking about getting one when it gets launched in the UK, like the Fire HD will be running a customised version of Amazons tablet operating system, which is a customised version of Android, but it wont allow full access to Google’s Play Store, instead you will be limited to running dedicated apps and games from amazon.

If you already use a lot of Amazons services, like Amazon Prime, Instant Video and Cloud Player you will benefit the most from getting the Fire TV. If you have a Kindle Fire tablet you can use that as a second screen.
Ultimately if the fire is going to be a success in the UK, Amazon will have to secure a good selection of services like Spotifiy, BBC iPlayer and other on-demand services. If they can do this it could be one to watch.

Amazon Fire TV Commercial

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iOS 8

iOS 8

Apple has even more tricks for the next update to their operating system iOS 8. Hear are just a few of of the new thing you can expect to see when it gets released sometime in September this year

iSO 8 Screen Shots

What is it?

Apples newest mobile operating system iOS 8 will be available for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch sometime in September this year. When iOS 7 was released last year it introduced a whole new fresh look to their popular mobile operating system, which was courtesy of Senior Vice President of design at Apple, Sir Jonathan Ive. iOS 7 already had a mammoth overall but Apple have concentrated on iOS feature set, Apple is saying the newest version is their biggest release since the app store launched.

What’s so different this time?

There are a whole host of new features and apps that will be immediately apparent, one of the most notable being the new Health app. There are also lots of innovative tweaks to their existing features and apps Messages being one. Many of the additions are aimed at developers and these are the most exciting, as they now give programmers the power to get the most out of iOS 8.

iOS Health App Screenshot

iOS 8 New Health App

What is the health app?

The all-new health app brings many of the fitness gadgets on the market together. Instead of having data about your heart rate, blood sugar, cholesterol or numbers of calories burned scattered across various apps, all the information will be stored in one place. Essential data will also be kept on an “emergency card” that can be accessed via the Lock screen.

What gadgets will work with the health app?

Apple has said that the Nike+ and FitBit apps will work and they were also showcased at the WWDC conference when iOS 8 was announced. All the health gadgets will have the potential to be used by the Health App. Developers have access to the HealthKit so they can ensure their devices and apps will be compatible at launch. Different apps will be able to access data from the Health app and send information back to it.

What’s happening with Messages?

When you receive a message notification, on iOS 7 you have to close your current app to read the message and then reply. With iOS 8, you no longer have to stop what you are doing and will be able to respond instantly. You will also be able to send audio and video messages by tapping on the microphone or video button, this makes it a lot easier to attach a recorded message or film. The new Message app will also let you listen to your message by simply putting your phone to your ear.

Will there be group messaging?

Not only will there be group messaging but you will also be able to control the group better by only inviting people you want, you will also be able to name your threads this will help you keep track of them easier and their content, share your location and view attachments in an easy-to-access folder, this means no more scrolling through your threads to find something.

What about self-destructing messages?

iOS 8 will have a built in function that will let you control how long something you send will stay on someone else’s device.

Will email be revamped?

You will now get new swipe gestures that will allow you to delete emails, mark them as read and archive them, there will also be an encryption tool which will give you greater privacy.

What’s Apple doing tiPhone with Swipe Keyboardo the keyboard?

Apple is enhancing their keyboard so while you are typing, three words or phrases will appear saving you time typing, it does this by learning your writing style, it will also be able to detect just who is using the device and adjust suggestions to suite that persons style.

 

Swiftkey on iOS 8Will I be able to ‘swipe type?’

Android uses are able to type words without ever lifting their finger off the devices keyboard; I had hoped Apple would have adopted this style of keyboard in iOS 8. Instead they are now allowing you to install third-party keyboard, allowing you to use Swype, SwiftKey and Fleksy.

 

 

 

 

Apple iOS 8 Video SharingDoes iOS 8 have an improved camera?

The camera app will now have a time-lapse function for making videos, but the main additions will be for images you have already taken. Searching will now be easier, allowing you to find an image by date, time, location or the album name. The app also comes with advanced editing functions like straigthing wonky horizons automatically, find the correct brightness, contrast and exposure and even suggest specific crops for the image.

What about backing up photos?

Photos that are stored on one devices will now be available on all your devices via iClouds Photo Library, Images stored in iClould at the original quality, and leaving a lower-res copy on your device this helps save space. Any edits you make will them be saved across all devices. iCloud Drive will also let you upload files making them available on any portable device, Mac or PC, just like Dropbox

What else can be shared?

There is now a feature called Family Sharing that will let family members share there content with each other like pictures, calendars, even phone each other’s phones. You can even monitor and control things better, if another family member is trying to buy content a message will be sent to the main account holder asking for permission, you will be able to have up to six family members on the same account.

What are the developer features?

Developers are now able to take advantage of widgets and the new application programming interface (APIs), as well as Apples new programming language called swift. This will help open the way for third party apps to share data with each other and alter the behaviour of other apps. Developers will now be able to enhance their apps with the use of the TouchID scanner on the iPhone 5s

Apple WWDC 2014 Keynote Speech

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What’s The Fuss About 4K?

What’s The Fuss About 4K?

This years World Cup Final is going to be filmed in 4K, experts claim that Ultra HD is the next big thing – but do we really need more confusing television standards?

4K Ultra HD Relative Sizes

4K Ultra HD Relative Sizes

What is it?

A new high-resolution video standard, that offers up to four times the detail of the current HD standard, and a wider range of colours. 4K refers to a format that is already widely used in digital cinemas, where the resolution is 4096×2160 pixels (4K being the number of horizontal pixels). 4K can also be used to describe a similar standard adopted by TV manufactures, but the official name for this is Ultra HD (or UHD) with a resolution is 2840×2160 pixels (2160P).

When is it due to launch?

If you are willing to spend £3,000 you can get an Ultra HD TV today. Sony, Samsung and LG have already launched an UHD-ready TV in the UK. 4K and Ultra HD TVs were everywhere at this years Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, there are many more UHD-capable devices due out in the coming months.

What other devices will use Ultra HD?

Theoretically any device that can display or record video could benefit from the resolution boost of Ultra HD. This means PCs, gaming devices, tablets, camcorders, digital cameras and even smartphones could adopt the standard.

Is this just another gimmick to get us to buy new TVs?

Unlike 3D, which proved to be a passing fad, Ultra HD is an improvement in general image quality. As such, Ultra HD is much more likely to be widely adopted.

I have not even got HD do I need Ultra HD?

If you have ever seen Ultra HD in action you will know how impressive it looks. There are many reasons why now might not be the best time to upgrade to UHD. Costs is a big one as they are still way to high at the minute, and some aspects of the format still need to be properly standardised, this includes a new type of HDMI connection. More importantly there is hardly any Ultra HD content available to watch in the UK. Broadcasters like the BBC and Sky are currently developing Ultra HD programming. Its unlikely we will be seeing much Ultra HD content via traditional broadcast methods any time soon, given there are only a handful of HD channels available on terrestrial TV, satellite or cable more than 10 years after the first HD transmission.

Amazon and Netflix have both said they are developing Ultra HD video streaming services but there is still no word on a launch date in the UK. YouTube can already support 2160p and there is a small selection of Ultra HD clip available to view. Most of these are unwatchable unless you have a high end PC with a very high-end graphics card and super fast broadband connection. You will also need to take the size of your living room in to account before jumping on the 4K bandwagon. Currently, the only Ultra HD TVs available are 50ins and bigger. There will be smaller sets one day but the benefits of 2160p are much clearer on a larger screen.

Samsungs 85in S9 Ultra HD TV costs just £35,000

Samsungs 85in S9 Ultra HD TV costs just £35,000

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