Windows 8.1 (Blue) Features Revealed

Here’s a quick rundown of what Windows 8.1 will bring to the table, and what Microsoft hopes will result from it.

I’ve been looking at Windows tablets for the past year or so, a little harder than I originally thought I would. I have an iPad 1. My daughter has an iPad 2. My wife has a Kindle Fire, and my son-in-law and two boys has Android tablets. I also recently reviewed a Dell Latitude 10 ST2 for Soft32. You can see the review here.

The Dell is good, but its performance isn’t great. I’ve recently (finally) gotten my hands on a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet as well. The difference in performance is night and day above the Dell. I’ll have some thoughts on the differences between the two in another post.

The big question, though is how Windows 8 works with both; and more importantly, what Windows Blue, officially branded as Windows 8.1 bring to the table to improve the experience on both. Microsoft has officially announced the features of Windows 8.1. Here’s a quick rundown of what they are.

windows-blue

The Start Button Returns
In short, we get the button but not the menu. Simply getting the button back, isn’t EXACTLY what most Windows veterans, especially enterprise users, were looking for. The new Windows 8 Start Menu leaves a lot to be desired at the office. Kids, when we asked for the Button back, we really meant the Menu. The Windows 8 Start Menu and Tiles don’t translate well on the desktop, even on a PC with touch built in like Surface Pro or the Latitude 10 ST2.

Start Menu Filtering
Newly installed apps won’t just get tiled on your Windows 8 Start Menu. They’ll now appear under a “New” filter in All Apps View. You can pin them to the Start Screen if you want, from there.

Boot to Desktop
The one big thing that most Windows vets will appreciate is the ability to bypass the Windows 8 Start Menu and boot directly to the desktop. Current rumor also indicates that you can boot not only to the Start Menu or Desktop but other locations as well, including All Apps View.

Interface Enhancements
You’re going to be able to carry your desktop background over to ModernUI apps. You’ll also see new colors, and backgrounds, including animated elements. Your lock screen can also be configured to run a slide show.

Windowing Enhancements
Microsoft is updating how Snap Views work. You will be able to resize snapped apps to any ratio you like, and can snap up to three (3) apps side-by-side. You can also open more than one instance of the same app and snap it side-by-side.

Settings Update
Settings is getting a decent number of tweaks to help unify and streamline the Windows 8 interface. More settings will be coming over to the ModernUI side of the fence so you won’t swap back and forth between ModernUI and the Desktop as much.

As soon as Windows 8.1 hits the streets, I should be able to install it on the Surface Pro I have. I’ll have a full rundown on it vs. the original release of Windows 8 for Soft32 as soon as its available.

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Let’s Take a Look to the New Features of iPhone 5

Year by year, Apple hits us with a new, shiny iPhone. Let’s take a look at the brand new iPhone 5, which was just launched yesterday. First of all, it’s 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than previous models and it has a new 4-inch Retina display. The screen is a little bit taller, but you can still tap, type and scroll the same way you always have.

The new iPhone is powered by a new A6 chip which improves performance and power efficiency to deliver better battery life. With up to twice the CPU and graphics performance, the new iPhone promises to be really fast when launching apps and loading web pages (2.1X faster than before) and now with the supports for wireless standards including LTE and DC-HSDPA, you can browse, download and stream content much faster. iPhone 5 also works on GPRS, EDGE, EV-DO, HSPA and HSPA+.

Anodized aluminum body with diamond cut chamfered edges and glass inlays

The 8 megapixel iSight camera has been improved and features new panorama feature which lets you capture panorama images of up to 28 megapixels by simply moving the camera across a scene in one smooth motion. The video is still 1080p, but it has improved stabilization, video face detection for up to 10 faces and the ability to take still photos as you record. The front facing camera has also been improved and it can now record 720p HD video.

iPhone 5 features a new connector that is smaller and more durable than the previous connector and features an adaptive interface that uses only the signals that each accessory requires, and it’s reversible so you can easily connect to your accessories. Sure there is also an adapter for 30-pin compatibility, no worries.

iPhone 5 also introduces new enhanced audio features including a new beam-forming, directional microphone system for higher quality sound, while background noise fades away with new noise canceling technology. iPhone 5 now includes support for cellular wideband audio and more natural sounding speech.

iPhone 5 comes with iOS 6 which was optimized for the larger Retina display and with over 200 new user features including: an all new Maps app with Apple-designed cartography, turn-by-turn navigation and Flyover view; Facebook integration for Contacts and Calendar, with the ability to post directly from Notification Center; Passbook, the simplest way to get all your passes in one place; new Siri features, including support for more languages, easy access to sports scores, restaurant recommendations and movie listings; Siri and Facebook-enabled apps like Photos, Safari and Maps; and Shared Photo Streams via iCloud.

iPhone 5 comes in either white & silver or black & slate, and will be available in the US for a suggested retail price of $199 (US) for the 16GB model and $299 (US) for the 32GB model and $399 (US) for the 64GB model.

For more info, please visit the official webpage of iPhone 5.

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OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Developer Preview 3

There’s a lot of iOS based improvement going into Apple’s newest Operating System, OS X 10.8, code named, Mountain Lion. Let’s take a look at how it and iOS are converging.

There’s been a lot going on in Cupertino since February of this year. Apple has been hard at work pulling together the latest version of its new desktop operating system, OS X 10.8, code named Mountain Lion. Apple is, at least in some sense, converging their two most successful platforms – iOS, which it uses to power all of its mobile devices; and OS X, which powers all of its desktops and laptops. With the iPad parked squarely between the two platforms (but powered by iOS), Apple is trying to build synergy between the two platforms so that users can easily use both without a experiencing any jarring transitions.

The effort is commendable. There are a great many Apple customers who own not only an iPod Touch or iPhone, but an iPad as well as a desktop/laptop Mac. Bringing the two together was something that Steve wanted to do. Let’s take a look at where the two converge and the value they provide, if any.

Messages Beta
Byte covered Messages Beta, and the features it brings to the desktop, in an extensive deep dive. Messages Beta is available for download on Mac’s running Lion, and will be usable until the new OS is officially available for purchase in the App Store. At that point, Messages will stop functioning in Lion, and those users who wish to keep using it will need to upgrade to Mountain Lion.

Notifications
Applications like Growl have been providing system notifications in OS X for quite some time. Apple has finally brought the same kind of functionality as you see in Growl, to Mountain Lion by integrating system wide notification into the operating system. The actual implementation takes its queues directly from iOS. They share a similar tray background, look and feel.

When system or app events occur on your Mac, those notifications will appear in the upper right corner of your screen, in a self-hiding event tray that slides out on the right side, as opposed to coming down from the center of the screen as it does on your iPad or iPhone. System event notifications disappear after a few moments have passed. Other notification types need to be dismissed by the user.

How, if at all, this will work or conflict with notification apps like Growl is yet to be known or understood. Growl is a long standing, value added application that many have used for YEARS simply because OS X didn’t support this type of functionality. It’s quite possible that Growl may be out of a job…

Reminders
Combining Reminders with Siri on the iPhone 4S is pretty awesome. All you have to do to set one on your iPhone is to ask Siri to, “remind [you] to do ‘X’ [at] ‘Y’, ” with X being the thing you want the reminder to remind you to do, and Y being when you want the reminder to go off. In Mountain Lion, Apple brings the Reminders app to the desktop, but without Siri. You get everything you’ve got on the iPhone (again, minus Siri) as well as a couple other cool additions.

On the desktop, Reminders allows you to create a task or to-do list, set the date and time you want the reminders to go off and the ability to push them to all of your iDevices. Having this on your Mac also means you get the ability to search through your reminders and view them on your calendar.

The one feature that Reminders doesn’t do on your Mac is “remind [you] to do ‘X’ when you get to ‘Z’,” with X again being the thing you want to do, and Z being the location where you want to do it. For example, again on your iPhone, “Siri, remind me to call home when I leave the office.” Location services aren’t built into Mountain Lion, so reminders on the desktop aren’t location aware.

iCloud Integration
Mountain Lion is the first edition of OS X that includes built in iCloud integration from its initial release. Yes, Lion has it; but it’s an update introduced add-on. With Mountain Lion, Apple gives you access to cloud-based sync services for Notes, Reminders and Messages/iMessage between your Mac and your iDevice.

Documents and changes to those documents stored there will also sync back and forth between your Mac and iDevice. An additional feature coming for documents in the cloud is Document Library. Aside from giving you access to the latest revision of any document created with an iCloud supported app, Document Library also gives you the ability to create folders by dragging one document on top of another, as you do with shortcuts on an iDevice home page, today. Document Library will also support file sharing, making it easy for you to share stuff with those you know via Mail, Messages and AirDrop.

Continue reading…

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iOS 6 Wish List

iOS5 is out and available to all supported iOS devices. With the iPhone 5 and iPad 3 rumored to be coming in 2012, let’s take a quick moment to speak to a couple desired features.

The release of the iPhone 4S also gave us iOS5. Battery life issues and improvements not-withstanding, any additional additions or life altering improvements will need to wait until iOS 6 is released. In light of that, I’d like to speak to a quick wish list for iOS6. The list is below, in no particular order.


Improved Battery Life

Let’s face it, the battery life issues in iOS 5 are real and legitimate. The iPhone’s battery needs to last at least 12 hours between charges. I don’t know if that’s a software fix, a hardware adjustment, or a better, bigger battery. I don’t care. At the end of the day, however, 12 legitimate, realistic hours is the magic number in my opinion.


Browsable File System (a File Manager)

We have about as good a chance at getting a real, browsable file system as we do of Samsung and Apple amicably settling their patent disputes. A browsable file system goes against the tenants that Apple laid down regarding iOS – the user doesn’t need to worry about such things. However, at times, I would like to be able to add, subtract and move files on my own without having to use a sync conduit (iTunes).


Widgets

This is the one Android thing I am really going to miss when I move back to iOS. Widgets on my home screen are an awesome way for me to check the time, the weather, etc. However, Apple hasn’t embraced the concept and really hasn’t changed their application launcher at all. The only thing they did to it, really since its introduction in the original iPhone in 2007, was to add folder support, and implement Spotlight searching. But I would really like to see a clock and weather widget on my main home screen. My eyes aren’t as sharp as they used to be, and I’d like to do this without jail breaking the device.


Google (or other provider) Maps with Turn by Turn Navigation

I’ve said it many times, I am SEVERELY directionally challenged. I need turn-by-turn navigation on my phone. Without it, I’m going to get turned around and get lost when going to new places. Android and Windows Phone have this via either Google or other carrier sanctioned application. I’d rather not go the carrier sanctioned route. It would be nice to either have something Apple branded or from an Apple partner on the device when I buy it. The current version of Google Maps really just isn’t enough.


Customizable Shortcuts (to settings and other default applets)

I would really like to be able to place a shortcut on my device to Airplane mode, Sound/Vibrate toggle, Bluetooth on/off, Wi-Fi on/off, 3G/4G on/off, etc. or to at least have this built into some sort of Settings bar that could be enabled on one or more home screens. Constantly sifting through menus to get to this stuff is a pain, and is very inefficient.


Siri Improvements

I like the idea of AI on my smartphone. I like the idea of being able to have an intelligent conversation with my device and then it taking action based on that. Part of that is there now – Siri, what’s my day like? Siri, schedule a meeting on “xxx” with “xxx.” Siri, send an email to, “xxx…” I know I’m a getting a little ahead of the game, but something like I want isn’t too far away based on the building blocks that are already put in place. I think some of this is going to happen, but it’s going to take a lot of time, and won’t all come together in iOS6. It will take a number of years and a number of OS revisions. It’s also going to take time, working with Siri on YOUR iPhone, as it will need to learn your habits and then anticipate them. What I would like to see for iOS 6.x is a way for that learned behavior to be passed on from OS rev to OS rev, old iPhone to new iPhone.

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CyberLink PowerDirector 10 the World’s fastest consumer editing software

Video editing was never an easy job. Either the software is too expensive, or you just own an entry level PC which is over passed by the hardware requirements. Even if you meet all the requirements, your need some expertise in this field to obtain good results in video editing. CyberLink has released the latest PowerDirector edition, which seems to cover all your needs, giving a balanced solution between low hardware requirements and usability.

Based on a huge community, PowerDirector has been recognized the most popular video editing tool, and therefore has evolved from version to version in terms of functionality and performance. PowerDirector 10 confirms again to be the fastest video editing tool. This is the result of a revamped rendering engine that provides even faster and more efficient video production. The engine takes advantage of both hardware and software technologies to speed up video processing, harnessing system GPU power via OpenCL for incomparable effects rendering speed, while a brand new H.264 media encoder rapidly processes HD video. In addition PowerDirector 10 is the world’s first native 64-bit consumer video editor, enabling improved system efficiency and faster loading of HD video footage through parallel processing optimization.

Intelligent Smart Video Rendering Technology (SVRT) is a patented technology that analyzes an entire project to assess the types of media and formats used, then selects the best output profile for optimal production speed. Theoretically in this way users can produce better videos in less time. SVRT technology recognizes the portions of a movie clip that has been modified and only renders those portions during production and not the entire clip. But for an average user, this technology can become useless if he already knows what output suites his needs, or if the user is forced to use a specific output for his project.

CyberLink PowerDirector 10 is a good solution also for slow computers. Thanks to an enhanced H.264 software encoder, PowerDirector 10 is up to 38% faster than PowerDirector 9 at rendering 1080 HD video clips. This means that even if your PC doesn’t have the latest CPU/GPU hardware, rapid video rendering speeds are still within reach through software technology.

Being a comprehensive application, it’s not an easy job to deliver a user-friendly interface. On the surface CyberLink PowerDirector 10 looks nice, bringing the main features in front. But as you go deeply into his functions, the interface becomes overcrowded. You can use up to 100 track timelines that lets you create even the most sophisticated movie sequences with ease by allowing multiple layers of video, audio and objects to be controlled simultaneously. PowerDirector 10 introduces a host of exciting new features to make your video productions not only more impressive, but also easier to create.

One of these features that comes for the first time in a consumer editing software is the free-hand drawings that can be recorded and overlay on any video. In addition these drawings are time-distortable, so you can slow down or speed up the action anytime. The cinematic Time-Lapse technique makes its debut in PowerDirector 10 transforming any slow moving activity into a fluid motion. CyberLink TrueTheater module can upscales SD videos to HD-like content, sharpening images and removing video noise or even reducing shakes from your camera movement transforming your sequence into a smooth clip. The Beat Marker algorithm analyzes your soundtrack and places markers at major beat points so that you know exactly where to place your transitions and effects. But in case your audio track is a slower one, you won’t get any beat points at all. On the other hand, faster tracks will create too many beat points that are useless in the editing process.

The most notable feature brought by PowerDirector 10 is the 3D support. Whether from files or straight from 3D cameras/phones, PowerDirector can edit any type of 3D video file. Convert your 2D videos & photos to 3D with TrueTheater 3D module for an enhanced experience and burn them to any standard: 3D Blu-ray, 3D AVCHD or 3D DVD discs and watch it on 3DTV.

Following the social networking trend, with PowerDirector 10 you can upload videos and photo slideshows directly to a host of popular video websites including Facebook, YouTube, DailyMotion,  Vimeo and NicoNicoDouga. Add tags to your media, choose the video quality, and set your account info for instant upload. And with the YouTube Smart Upload feature, if your video’s more than 15 mins long, PowerDirector will automatically split it into different parts and create a YouTube playlist.

download CyberLink PowerDirector 10

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WWDC 2011 Apple launches Mac OS X Lion iOS5 and iCloud

World Wide Developers Conference San Francisco 2011 has three Software Revolutions prepared for the public: Mac OS X Lion 10.7, iOS 5 for iPhone/iPad and iCloud to keep them all together.

“Mac OS X has over 250 new features and 3000 api’s for developers.”

At WWDC 2011 Mac OS X Lion was presented with 10 key new features:
1 – Multi-Touch Gestures
Improved gestures and BYE BYE scroll bars

2 – Full Screen Apps
New top-right button for it. You can see all applications in full screen.

3 – Mission Control
Bird-eye-view for everything you have running.

Downside to all these features means you have to learn some gestures, learn how to use and get used to mission control, and get used to new full-screen apps.

4 – Built into Lion Mac App Store
Because this was a very “hard” thing to do.

5 – Launch Pad
A gesture for all your applications, it also looks very alike iOS from iPhone/iPad.

6 – Resume
Remembers the application setting, selected texts if it gets closed intentionally or by accident.

7 – Auto Save
Lion can automatically save any document while you are working.

8 – Versions
Automatic versions of your document. A time-machine of all your document versions.

9 – Airdrop
Aa sharing documents and files from a mac to another. Peer-2-Peer Wifi based sharing tool. This is sharing folder improved in visual way.

10 – Mail
Improved version of Mail with some features and user interface from iOS. It also has bubble-like history for the emails which is cute.
I must admit I love the search feature, you can finally easily search and find fast something on your email.

Check them out:

 

Mac OS X Lion will be priced only for $29.99 available in July only through Apple App Store.

( If you take out the flashy box, and the manuals, the disk and all the manufacturing process and SHIPPING for these Mac OS X disks – then you can make a $29.99 operating system, Just wondering why microsoft is still behind on this )

iOS 5 – new OS for your revolutionary device

Here are the WWDC 2011 presented iOS 5 features :
1 – Notification Center
No more interrupting, no more losing the list of notifications if you have the screen locked Notifications Center “is a single place which combines all notifications ” “just swipe your finger down from the top to get your notifications center”.

2 – Newsstand
Magazines and news papers will be available on your iPhone, in a single place that combines all of them (by purchase). The best part is that you get music and video inside the news. This feature downloads in background all the papers and data. (unfortunately you need a good data plan, without it, a music magazine will download while you are sleeping, increasing your bill)

3 – Twitter – new twitter app integrated

4 – Safari Updates – improved reading options. reading list – to read your page later – this will sync up on your Mac or PC and a great feature: tabs for iPads.

5 – Reminders (text, date, location so on)
Love the “location” feature, you can now program reminders by GPS location (if you leave or arrive somewhere). The downside to this is that I can’t imagine what your battery life will get if you use it a lot. Reminders will sync with Exchange on windows and iCal.

6 – Camera
Lock screen shortcut, use the volume up button to take the photo, grid lines, pinch to zoom, AE/AF lock using your finger and basic photo editing features.

7 – Mail
Rich text formatting, drag addresses, support for flagging, search entire content from the mail server, swipe to inbox gestures, added support for S/MIME and built-in dictionary.

9 – PC-FREE
No more “plug in iTunes to setup”, Software Updates are OTA (Over-The-Air), Delta Updates you download only the updates not the entire OS, create/delete calendars from iOS.

10 – iMessage
New message system between iOS devices iPhone-iPad-iPod Touch, supported over WiFi and 3G.
You can exchange:
– text, photos, video, contacts, etc
– delivery receipts (confirmation of sending)
– read receipts (confirmation of read)
– typing indication
– pushed to all devices

The new iOS 5 includes also over 200+ new features, here are a few that were mentioned in the WWDC 2011 conference:
– Split Keyboard for your iPad if you type with your thumbs
– Game Center “iOS is the most popular gaming platform on the planet” (support for Turn-based games)
– Airplay mirroring (wireless mirroring iPad over Apple TV)
– WiFi Sync to iTunes
– Multitask Gestures

 

iOS 5 will be available this Fall. Will it work on all earlier versions of the iPhone ? – NOPE.
iOS 5 will work only on iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, iPad 2, and iPod Touch 3rd and 4th gen.

iCLOUD
– stores your content and wirelessly pushes it to all your devices
– is integrated with your apps so everything happens automatically.

iCloud and MobileMe are not the same thing.

iCloud features:

– Now iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and iMac – can be synced completely automatically through iCloud. You don’t have to be near your mac or iPod to sync your new music.

– You can Sync: contacts, iCal, mail, appstore purchases, keynote presentations, documents,album photos, music (purchased with your Apple Id), books and magazines.

– IBooks also remembers bookmarks so you can read something on your iPhone and continue on iPad.

– Backup – if you get a new phone, everything you purchased (music apps and books, camera roll, device settings, app data, and personal data)

– iTunes Match for $24.99 will scan your music (no upload) that you ripped or purchased from another place, match it with 256kbps AAC DRM-free music from iTunes and you can have the same benefits as music purchased from iTunes.

Limitations include: 1000 photos, 30 Days storage time on the cloud, 5 Gb of storage (mail, documents and backup) for your Apple ID beside purchased music, app, books and photo stream.
Again, you should have a data plan on your mobile device.

And the best part of this – THIS IS FREE. (no more MobileMe year subscription)

Everything looks pretty iNICE.

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Windows 8 leaks roundup

Even though nothing is official yet, and there are thousands of rumors about how Windows 8 will be, I decided to roundup any rumor and pack them in a nice and tidy post.

First rumor that everybody is “huffing” and “puffing” is the Windows 8 built-in market place.

The screenshot does remind me of something, but I can’t put my finger on what exactly. The principle is quite easy and most of us are used with it from Apple. Lots of apps, one place, secure download, easy install etc..

 

Windows 8 Smartscreen – this is a security feature that checks any files you open. I know what you would say, your antivirus does that, Microsoft Essentials does that, but this one is built-in. This feature is currently used by Internet Explorer and MSN

 

 

 

 

Windows UI Auto Color – basically the Aero will determine your wallpaper dominant color and change automatically its interface.

You will also be able to customize the interface elements individually, like taskbar, start menu and so on.

 

 

 

There is also a rumor that now you will be able to open your ISO files and mount them directly from the operating system.

This feature is long-time desired for many windows users all around the world. I don’t want to be a critical, but I really wonder where they got this idea from. (Mac OS X .dmg)

You will also find a built-in PDF reader app currently named Windows 8 AppX PDF Reader.

I am sure many windows users sooner or later had to reinstall the operating system due to different errors or problems. Windows 8 might come with a “reset” button; not a hardware but a software one. This feature should reset the OS and restore it to its factory settings. There is quite a buzz about this feature, according to the rumors it will take only minutes, but nobody knows how exactly and what will happen to your installed applications.

If this feature will keep your current apps installed, your files or will erase everything and leave you with a fresh start, we don’t know yet, but surely looks like Microsoft got some hints from Appstore why wouldn’t they create also something like Time Machine.

There are also rumors like Log-in using facial recognition and the PC camera, Faster Start-up, Better and more useful Help and Ribbon based Windows Explorer.

Want to see how it looks like ?

source 1
source 2

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