Posts Tagged ‘tech’

Want to learn Spanish on your Xbox?

March 27th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Bitterwallet Spain 300x237 Want to learn Spanish on your Xbox?Ever wanted to learn a new language, but hate the idea of doing a class that will make you take irritating exams? Want to be able to converse abroad without having to sit on your sofa with the headphones on, repeating inane phrases?

Well, you might be in luck if you’re tired of simply shouting in staccato English and have an Xbox One.

The successful language learning tool, Rosetta Stone, has been launched as an app on the Xbox One, which is a good idea.

The app will visualise real-world situations for you, so you can learn phrases that matter to you. Presumably, phrases like “Can I have a beer please?”, “where is the nearest cash machine?” and “I’m sorry, but I’ve soiled myself – please stop laughing.”

For the time being, there’s only English and Spanish that are available, but obviously more languages will be added.

The developers say: “You explore several locations in the Discovery Zone and chat with the characters you find there. In the Training Zone, you’ll solidify the concepts you encountered with study recommendations, cultural tips, phrase books, and of course, more games! Keep track of your achievements, and keep practising until you get a perfect score.”

Facebook to beef up Messenger

March 26th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

Facebook 300x300 Facebook to beef up MessengerFacebook are giving their Messenger app some muscles as they look to woo businesses and brands (brands is a cuddle way of saying ‘businesses who want you to feel like they’re a lifestyle choice’) out of loads of money.

There’s going to be a rake of new features, enabling people to integrate their own apps with Messenger (thanks to a new thing called Messenger Platform) and companies will be able to enhance online shopping and bug everyone on Facebook (thanks to a thing called Businesses on Messenger).

Mark Zuckerberg reckons these new tools will end up in social media tools replacing the old types of talking to companies.

“Currently, if you want to get in touch with a business, most of us probably still call,” Zuckerberg said. “But I actually don’t know anyone who likes calling businesses. It’s just not fast or convenient and it definitely doesn’t feel like the future.”

David Marcus, also of Facebook, added that this would restore the “personal and delightful experience” that customers have when shopping at little local shops for local people. David Marcus clearly hasn’t been to Royston Vasey.

Anyway, the whole deal here is that Messenger Platform will help people plug apps into Messenger which will allow users to share photos, audio or whatever, more easily. Alongside that, businesses will be able to play with the format too. Expect to get some animated gifs from Oreos or something, in the near future. Or, you can live chat with IAMS about your cat that just choked to death.

TomTom launch free sat-nav app

March 26th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

TomTom 281x300 TomTom launch free sat nav appTomTom have gone a launched a free sat-nav on Android called TomTom Go Mobile. If you’ve just bought a sat-nav, gutted for you.

So what do you get with it? Well, it looks like it has more features than the competition, with live traffic updates and speed camera notifications and all that. Oh, and of course, you can navigate yourself with it. That’s pretty obvious though.

You can also take trips to millions of ‘points of interest’ and if you’re worried about hammering your data, you can download offline maps for the 111 countries covered by TomTom.

What’s the catch? Well, it is free to download, but that’s limited to 50 miles per month. If you’re driving in advance of that, then you’ll need to look at the £14.99 per year subscription (or £34.99 for three years).

Of course, you could just use Google Maps for free, or indeed, the Google-owned Waze which also won’t cost you a penny.

However, Google Maps can be a bit of a faff, while TomTom Go Mobile has big, clutter-free buttons, which is advantageous if you’re behind the wheel. Either way, sat-navs as we know them are rapidly becoming a thing of the past, so TomTom need to do something, and with this freemium model, they might be onto something.

Unless Google are scheming something…

Google ready Nexus Player

March 25th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

nexus player 300x300 Google ready Nexus PlayerGoogle wants to get in on all that lovely television action that everyone else is weighing into. Apple are going to start streaming TV shows, and Amazon have their Fire TV box and stick. The internet godzilla is prepping the launch of the Nexus Player on 26th March in the UK.

As you’d expect, the Nexus Player will let you stream films and telly programmes from Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. Of course, this is pointless if you have a console, but for non-gamers, this is a good move and yet another option to look at.

That said, this offering from Google hasn’t exactly won everyone over in America, Canada and Japan.

One problem is that the Nexus Player us likely to cost somewhere in the region of £75 and, if you want to play games on it, then the joypad is another £30.

Google haven’t made an official announcement on all this, but the product has appeared on an Amazon listing.

Is there any point buying one if you can already stream Netflix from other devices to your television, for a much cheaper price?

Google tracking your every move

March 19th, 2015 7 Comments By Mof Gimmers

A lot of people don’t like the power Google have online, and this won’t help the internet giant any further.

If you have an Android phone and a Google account, then you might have been tracked without you knowing. Now, this’ll be old news to some, but it seems like there’s a good number of people out there who still have no idea.

Not to worry though – you can stop being tracked really easily

First off, watch this short video which tells you about how you’re being tracked and how you can see where you’ve been – provided you had your phone in your pocket – via a section on Google Maps.

As you can see, you can go back in time and see where you’ve been on a Google Map, which may well give you the willies, but it is easy enough to fix.

First off, you should switch your location services off on your mobile. You’ll find that in your settings. Some apps ask you to turn your location on, but you don’t have to. Twitter doesn’t need to know where you are and if you’re using something like Tinder which requires your location to show you who wants to hump nearby, then only switch your location on when it is needed.

As the video shows, it is really easy to delete your location history, and you can find out more on that, here.

Deathwatch: Internet Explorer

March 19th, 2015 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

internet explorer Deathwatch: Internet ExplorerWe spoke about Project Spartan and the sweeping away of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer at Christmas, and now, after 20 years in the game, it looks like IE is going the same way as Britpop – a vaguely embarrassing footnote in pop culture.

That said, we’ve all been a little unfair on IE, despite the many obvious flaws it has.

IE was there at the start of most people’s internet browsing, launching billions of pages and filled with innovations that were much copied and help to shape the internet as we know it. It originally killed off Netscape Navigator, before coming up against Chrome, Safari and Firefox and soon enough, when hackers had their way with it, entire governments were advising you didn’t use IE.

However, those that lead the way don’t always last forever, and Microsoft look ready to put the browser to bed. Microsoft’s head of marketing announced this week that there is going to be a new browser, currently code-named Project Spartan. Chris Capossela said: “We’re now researching what the new brand, or the new name, for our browser should be.”

Internet Explorer went from accounting for 95% of all browsing, but these days, it is much less fancied, thanks to the previously mentioned problems and competitors, and not to mention the fact that Microsoft failed to keep up with people’s web habits.

However, Microsoft aren’t giving up and, after dominating Web 1.0, they’re skipping 2.0 and eyeing up Web 3.0 or, if you prefer, the terribly named ‘Internet Of Things’.

It looks like Spartan (whatever it ends up being called), will be robust and stripped down, like Chrome. It could also be unveiled in the next 4 weeks, if rumours are to be believed. Sadly, it might also feature the chippy Microsoft equivalent of Siri – Cortana – who made Clean Bandit laugh so much in those appalling adverts (below).

Anyway, for now, we bid Internet Explorer farewell. Thanks for enabling much of the Western world to get access to dirty films in a much easier way.

Google: now checking your apps

March 18th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

android apps 300x187 Google: now checking your appsGoogle have just tinkered with their Play Store policies, which means that from now, Android developers are going to have to wait for their apps to be approved by the Internet Behemoth once they’ve been submitted.

Before now, Google didn’t bother with such things and only looked at apps once they’d been reported for violating its policies or whatever. Now, they’re going to preside over everything like Apple do with theirs. However, Google say that no-one will notice much difference as they’ve actually been doing it for months now.

“We value the rapid innovation and iteration that is unique to Google Play, and will continue to help developers get their products to market within a matter of hours after submission, rather than days or weeks,” Google’s product manager for Google Play, Eunice Kim, wrote. “In fact, there has been no noticeable change for developers during the rollout.”

It seems that’s the main difference between Android and Apple – the time it takes for apps to be verified, as Apple is known for their lengthy approval process.

In addition to this, Google will also be issuing a new age-based rating system, so the kidz don’t have to be flooded with genitals and gore. Probably.

This means that developers are going to have to fill-in a questionnaire about their new (and existing) apps so that they can be given an accurate rating. The questionnaires are available to developers now and Google reckon that apps “may be blocked in certain territories or for specific users,” if developers don’t submit them by May.

Facebook rolling out payment system

March 18th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Facebook 300x300 Facebook rolling out payment systemFacebook are pushing on with a payments system for their Messenger app, which means people will be able to send money to their contacts directly and instantly.

That is, of course, if you trust Facebook with your bank details.

Initially, this is going to be a thing in America, where Stateside users can link their accounts and debit cards with their profiles and with a couple of taps, send cash to people. Facebook themselves are going to handle transactions and the encryptions. They already handle millions in advertising and gamers on the social network, so that should allay a few fears.

If you’re game, you’ll be able to add a PIN or use Apple’s Touch ID security as further protection.

Again though. This is Facebook who have a rather wayward approach to your data, so if you hold off and stick to tried and tested methods away from them, we wouldn’t blame you.

This new feature will be hitting iOS, Android and the desktop version in the coming months and will be rolled out worldwide soon enough.

“Incorporating security best practices into our payments business has always been a top priority,” Facebook said. “These payment systems are kept in a secured environment that is separate from other parts of the Facebook network and that receive additional monitoring and control. A team of anti-fraud specialists monitor for suspicious purchase activity to help keep accounts safe.”

Apple to start streaming TV?

March 17th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Picture 22 300x208 Apple to start streaming TV?Apple are, apparently, planning to launch their own online TV streaming service, allowing iFans to watch programmes on their iPads, Apple TV boxes and whatnot.

They’ve been talking to companies like ESPN, FX, CBS, and Fox, which isn’t going to set the world on fire, but is a start. You can presume that any deal won’t involve NBCUniversal, as Apple fell out with the broadcaster’s parent company Comcast.

Looks like Apple are going after the subscription market, with rumours that their service will set you back around £25 per month. If the mutterings are to be believed, we’ll be hearing much more about this around June.

It isn’t surprising they want in, what with Netflix doing so well and Amazon Prime Instant Video muscling into the market. If Apple manage to get HBO and deliver that around the world, that could be a game-changer. Only last week, they announced that they’d secured exclusive early access to the HBO Now streaming service, which means Game of Thrones devotees will be keeping an eye on all this.

Apple, as ever, aren’t commenting on the speculation, leaving berks like us to do all their promotional work for them.

Yahoo! want to kill the password as we know it

March 17th, 2015 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

password 300x289 Yahoo! want to kill the password as we know itYahoo are looking at killing off the password as you know it. Instead, they’re liking the idea of on-demand passwords if you want to login to their services.

Basically, this new service lets you log into a Yahoo account using a short password that is sent to your mobile phone. So, every time you want to get at your Yahoo! mail or whatever, instead of tapping in your password, you’ll hit a button which says “send my password”. You get it in a text and then you can login with a four-character password.

It all sounds like an almighty faff in the making.

Yahoo executive Dylan Casey said: “This is the first step to eliminating passwords.”

Of course, some places already have a two-step authentication process where you enter your password and then get a second one of the phone, but all the really popular sites don’t have them for a reason.

You can presumably stay logged-in to your account on your devices at home, but if you repeatedly check your emails at work or away from the house, this sounds like a royal pain in the dick.

Bionym Nymi 300x162 Fancy unlocking your account with the rhythm of your heart?How’s your heart? Well, your Halifax bank account might need to know as they’re toying with the idea of having a bracelet which you wear while it tracks the beat of your heart, which acts as a replacement for your password to get at your account.

No, seriously. It’s called the Nymi Band and it’ll look at the rhythm of your pulsating chest meat to keep you logged-in so you don’t have to remember tedious things like passwords, codes and PIN numbers.

All you do, is pop your finger on a plate which is housed in the band and it creates a circuit, and checks your electrocardiogram against one you’ve stored in it. As long as you’re wearing the band, you have access to your bank account and all that jive.

Bionym, who have come up with this device, reckon it is a much more secure than the usual means of identification. They also think you should use it for contactless payments.

Halifax digital development director Marc Lien muttered: “We are in the very early stages of exploring potential uses for the Nymi Band and wearable technology more widely which will help us further understand how we can serve our customers in the way that best appeals to their needs.”

Cue the Daily Mail worrying about someone hacking your heart through the bracelet.

Free LG smartwatch with LG G Flex 2

March 13th, 2015 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

There’s people who really don’t see the point in smartwatches. We know this because they talk about smartwatches more than any other human on Earth.

For those quietly interested in such a thing, who just so happen to be looking at getting a new phone – here’s a thing you should know about.

If you’re eyeing up a new LG G Flex 2 curved smartphone, then you might want to look at Vodafone’s deal where you get the phone bundled with a free LG G Watch R. You’ll need to sign up for a monthly contract on Red 4G.

 Free LG smartwatch with LG G Flex 2

Of course, if the idea of signing up with Vodafone and having a curved mobile makes you vomit into your lap, then this deal won’t be for you. However, this isn’t a bad way of getting into wearable technology if you don’t want to fork out for a separate watch or whatever.

However, the cost of the actual G Flex 2 plans are quite pricey, so weigh that up first. 4G tariffs start at £39.50 per month (with an extra £19 for the hardware) which comes with unlimited minutes and texts, 4GB of 4G data.

If that all sounds like a complete swizz, then you’ll have to wait until prices start dropping on smartwatches when the competition heats up around Christmas 2015.

Apple services are down!

March 11th, 2015 5 Comments By Mof Gimmers

sad apple logo Apple services are down!Have you been having trouble with some Apple services? It isn’t you – there’s bother going on and Apple know about it.

The company said that some of their services, including the App store, iTunes store, Mac App store and iBook store, were down for users worldwide today.

Apple said on their website: ”Customers may be unable to make purchases from the App Store, iTunes Store, iBooks Store, or Mac App Store.”

They also noted that iCloud Mail and iCloud Account & Sign In were affected earlier, but that all seems to be sorted out now. Other services are acting up too, so don’t worry – you’re not going mental or don’t need to throw your phone down the toilet in anger.

The outages have been reported in a number of countries, including the United States, Switzerland, Hong Kong and all over the UK. Apple will be trying to sort it out. In the meantime, you’re going to have to either talk to some humans or do other things on the internet. You’re capable of distracting yourself, we’re sure.

Google opens a shop in London

March 11th, 2015 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

google Google opens a shop in LondonGoogle have thrown open the doors on their first branded shop, choosing the lovely location of Tottenham Court Road in London, at a Currys PC World. The glamour is all too much for us.

Imaginatively, the shop will be called The Google shop, and of course, it will flog Android phones and devices as well as Chromebook laptops and the Chromecast TV dongle. Maybe you’ll be able to buy bits of internet as well. We just don’t know.

For that cuddly, holistic, we’re trying to do things differently because we’re from the internet feel, you’ll also be able to go in and have a tutorial with some people in Chuck Taylor Converse trainers, who will show you how to get the most out of Google apps and things.

This is the first time that Google have opened a shop in their own name and it looks like it is the way things are going, with Amazon looking at doing something similar (they’re going to do theirs in New York though). These shops will be different from Androidland (yes, really) and Chromezone. This will be an in-store concession inside the Currys PC Word and they’ll be opening up more, with plans to have The Google Shop inside the Currys PC Worlds in Fulham, and Thurrock, Essex.

James Elias, the UK marketing director for Google, said: “We’re incredibly excited to launch this space – the first of its kind anywhere in the world – in London with Currys PC World. The pace of innovation of the devices we all use is incredible, yet the way we buy them has remained the same for years.”

“With the Google shop, we want to offer people a place where they can play, experiment and learn about all of what Google has to offer; from an incredible range of devices to a totally-connected, seamless online life. We think it’s a genuinely unique try-before-you-buy experience.”

The shops will also… get this… host ‘Virtual Space Camps’, which isn’t something that will make you float around in pretend zero gravity, but rather, will be classes to teach children the basics of coding. Nice idea – dreadful name. Anyway, if you want to go and stand next to some Google, you know where to go.

the internet 232x300 PMs plans to ban encryption arent a good idea

The internet, yesterday

A plan by David Cameron to block and ban encryption has been found to be a rubbish idea, according to a study by the UK parliament.

This report, carried out by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, had a look at how the darknet (or Tor if you prefer) and online anonymity is being used. There’s little public support for it and the Darknet and Online Anonymity report (.pdf link here) noted that it is used by criminals, but it is also used by journalists and whistleblowers and journalists, so if you’re going to look at the ills, you have to weigh-up the pros too.

“There is widespread agreement that banning online anonymity systems altogether is not seen as an acceptable policy option in the UK. Even if it were, there would be technical challenges,” it said.

One thing the report pointed out, was that one place doing this was China, and their governments attempts to squash communications is not something that would be good for the UK.

The report continued, for those who understand the jargon: ”Some argue for a Tor without hidden services because of the criminal content on some THS. However, THS also benefit non-criminal Tor users because they may add a further layer of security.”

“If a user accesses a THS the communication never leaves the Tor network and the communication is encrypted from origin to destination. Therefore, sites requiring strong security, like whistleblowing platforms, are offered as THS. Also, computer experts argue that any legislative attempt to preclude THS from being available in the UK over Tor would be technologically unfeasible.”

Whether or not David Cameron listens to this report is quite another matter.