Tag Archives: Nexus

PTJ 202 News: Chew On This

Who says you shouldn’t release new products in August? Google’s all out with the shiny, releasing the final version of its Android 7.0 operating system to compatible Nexus devices. [Sorry about that, Nexus 7 owners.] For a deep review of the new system, check out what Ars Technica has to say. (Hint: Ars Technica has a lot to say.)

Yes, the month of August seems to make everyone want to shop, and not just for Trapper Keepers and sturdy jeans for school. Pinterest just bought the streamlined reader app Instapaper. Microsoft has acquired the firm Genee, which specializes in intelligent scheduling coordination and optimization, or rather, letting bots run your calendar and send you reminders. (In a blog post, Microsoft said it plans to use the Genee technology in its Office 365 suite.) Microsoft is also getting closer to Lenovo, as the China-based hardware company announced plans to preload Microsoft Office mobile apps on certain Android-based devices it sells.

babsAnd Apple’s been shopping too, acquiring Gliimpse, a startup specializing in personal health-data management. Apple also made news recently with the decision to replace the revolver emoji in the coming iOS 10 system with a squirt gun to artistically make a comment about gun violence. The iOS 10 system itself is expected out by the next month and if a certain diva is to be believed, it might just be on Friday, September 30th. Actress and recording artist Barbra Streisand told NPR that she personally complained to Apple CEO Tim Cook about the way the Siri virtual assistant pronounces her name and he agreed to fix it.

No official word on when the annual fall Apple Special Event will be slurping up all the media bandwidth next month. Some observers like WhenIsKeynote.com are going with September 6th, the day after Labor Day, while others predict it’ll be sometime around September 13th. Major iPhone changes are not expected this year and some blogs are already skipping ahead to 2017 with the breathless anticipation of an overhauled handset design, including a curved display not unlike the Samsung Edge.

echoAmazon is looking to grab some more customers by going cheap. The ReCode site hears the übermegaeverything store is looking to launch a cheap streaming music service that only works on its Amazon Echo speaker assistant and may cost about $5 a month.

The state of Massachusetts is taking a stand of its own in favor of a taxi-cab industry that’s been taking it on the chin from ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. As the Reuters news agency reports, the Bay State plans to levy a 20-cent tax per trip on a ride-hailing service and a nickel of that will go right to the taxi industry until the year 2021.

Also taking a stand: Dozens of human rights and civil liberties organizations who have signed a letter protesting the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed plan to screen the social media accounts for foreign visitors to the country. The comment period for the proposal ended on this Monday.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Sony is getting into downsizing mode with a thinner design for its PlayStation 4 console called the PS Slim.  Sony is said to be planning a media event on September 7th to share the news.

tux25This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Linux operating system kernel. On August 25, 1991, one Linus Benedict Torvalds posted a message in a Usenet group announcing a little project and suffice it to say, some people paid attention.  Here’s to the next 25, Penguin Nation.

The enthusiasm for the Pokémon Go mobile game seems to be fading a bit. Does Pikachu get a third act?

Twitter has finally added that eye-soothing dark night mode to the iOS version of its app. Android users have been enjoying the feature since last month.

The once hot Gawker website shut down for good this week. Gawker’s founder Nick Denton put up one final post.

And finally, after two years in the wilds of space, one of the two Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory spacecraft, known as STEREO-B, has reestablished contact with NASA after going silent in October 2014. The agency’s website explains how the bond was broken, in case you were wondering. NASA engineers had been trying to get back in touch with the craft for the past 22 months and were finally able to establish a lock on STEREO-B’s downlink carrier on August 21st — thanks to the Deep Space Network array of giant radio antennas. Don’t you go running off again, STEREO-B, you hear?

stereoB

 

PTJ 199: Conventional Wisdom

Forget those grainy old newsreels of Republicans and Democrats putting on large hats and gathering every four years to nominate a candidate for president. Thanks to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and various other social platforms, wonks and watchers alike have instant access to high-definition video right from the arena floor, plus ongoing commentary from viewers around the world. Will this massive wall of easily accessible data make for a more informed body politic — or just lead to more online body slams? And what about those the hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee that some say were courtesy of Russian operatives trying to influence the results of November? Journalist Laura M. Holson drops by PTJ HQ with her observations on it all.

And, after a week off so J.D. could work on her monitor tan, she and El Kaiser are back behind the mic with a summary of the week’s tech news, including Verizon’s purchase of Yahoo and summer projects from Microsoft and Google. Pour yourself a cool, refreshing beverage and settle on in for a listen!

PTJ 199 News: Areas of Interest

No real surprises here: Verizon won the bidding war for Yahoo’s operating business. In an apparent quest to scoop up Yahoo’s reported one billion monthly active users (while reliving those halcyon dial-up days of  The 1990s), the telecom giant agreed to pay $4.8 billion in cash for the fading purple web pioneer.  Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is still onboard Yahoo and has said she wants to stay, even if it means losing her golden parachute severance deal of about $55 million  if she’s terminated as part of the acquisition. One thing not included in the sale: Yahoo’s stake in Alibaba.

strangerIn case you’ve been holed up binging on the new Netflix series Stranger Things, even stranger things have been happening in Cleveland and Philadelphia this month as the American political party conventions came and went. There’s already been a bit of Cold War intrigue surrounding the hacked and leaked emails of the Democratic National Committee, possibly by Russians. Given the timing of the emails’ release, some are now theorizing that Russia is trying to influence the US election by swaying voters to Republican candidate Donald Trump (who seems to be just fine with Hillary Clinton getting hacked). Whatever the case, the FBI is investigating and it’s clear that cyberwarfare is on the rise. Perhaps in a related development, The White House announced this week that it now has a new scale of classifying cyberattacks.

Speaking of security, thousands of people voluntarily gave up their Twitter passwords last week to the pop star Jack Johnson, who nicely asked his four million followers to send him their login information. Kids, it’s all feels and fame until someone gets majorly hacked. Just ask the IT department of the DNC.

trollOn the topic of Twitter, the bird-themed  is launching a new marketing campaign where it will attempt to explain why it’s a unique delivery mechanism for breaking news and gossip. However, do not expect any mention of the colossal amount of troll poop that clogs the best of timelines.

Does two-factor authentication  via SMS make you feel safer?  TechCrunch and a few other sites are reporting that the National Institute for Standards and Technology is concerned that SMS is not suitably secure and is circulating a document called the Digital Authentication Guideline while accepting comments on the GitHub site.

In international Unmanned Aviation Vehicle news, Amazon is stepping up its testing of delivery drones in Britain. The übermegaeverything store is even partnering with the UK government to expand the experiments, which are scheduled to begin immediately.  Tea drones ay five o’clock!

teadrone

Microsoft’s free Windows 10 upgrade offer for Windows 7 and 8.1 users ends this month, so if you didn’t get it before July 29th, you probably didn’t want Windows 10 in the first place and fought hard to avoid it. If you did install Windows 10 (or bought a new computer that already had it), look out on August 2nd for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the biggest upgrade heave since last November.

Microsoft also announced updates to its Office 365 suite, including a new Researcher service for Microsoft Word that helps you find, fit in and format reliable and legitimate resources to cite in your academic papers. Word has also been updated with a virtual cloud-based writing assistant called Editor that provides better document proofreading and analysis of your writing, which might make it less painful for you to compose and others to read.

Microsoft has added a new feature called Zoom to PowerPoint as well. Zoom can easily create interactive non-linear presentations for those who really don’t care about slide order and want to go freestyle.

The Outlook mail app also got a Gmail-like “Priority Inbox” update that helps weed out distracting fluff in your mailbox.  Microsoft calls its version  “Focused Inbox” instead.

Google has done some updating of its own this week and has released updates to Google Maps for desktop, Android and iOS. The company tweaked the color scheme and design of the maps to make them cleaner, sharper and easier to read. Google Maps also has new orange-shaded “areas of interest” that show algorithmically selected pods of restaurants, bars and other attractions nearby.  According to the Android Police blog, Google Maps is rolling out notifications for mass-transit delays and a Wi-Fi only mode to help you keep your data allowance under control, too.

Nexus and Android Phone users are getting a nice gift from the Google phone app – a warning that an incoming call may be spam. If you do get a spam call, the app makes it easy to block and report the offender.

And finally, Pokémon Go dating was only a matter of time and yes, now it’s a thing. A company name RazorGo will be coming out with a site and app for Pokémon Go players to chat with their teams or privately. And you know that tune…

Love soft as an easy chair
Love fresh as the morning air
One love that is shared by two
I’ve found thanks to Pikachu

pika

PTJ 181 News: Full Court Press

fccCould the digital divide in America be closing just a bit? The Federal Communications Commission has tweaked its plan for low-cost broadband Internet access and presented a proposal to its members this week that brings broadband service for $9.25 a month. The new broadband plan is an update to its 1985 Lifeline program to subsidize landline service for qualifying low-income consumers and the 2008 enhancement to the plan to include mobile-phone help. Lifeline has gotten the usual government-program charges of fraud, waste and abuse (and other gripes) from its detractors, like what counts as average broadband speed. The FCC countered by saying it does have some fraud-prevention measures. Some providers like Sprint don’t care for the proposed reforms to the Lifeline program, but a vote on the new system by FCC members is expected on March 31st.

Facebook is making its Instant Articles feature easier to use for people who aren’t even major media organizations. The company said a few weeks ago that it was opening up the Instant Articles feature to all publishers and this week, Facebook announced a new open-source plug-in for WordPress.  The opening of Instant Articles For All is expected to happen in time for the company’s annual F8 Conference in San Francisco next month. In an even more reassuring development, Facebook also awarded $15,000 to a hacker who demonstrated how he could use basic software to crack open the account of any user on the service. Yes, Facebook has since fixed the flaw in its system.

Mozilla, which recently bailed out, er, pivoted, on its Firefox OS for smartphones, is moving into the Internet of Things, where appliances rule the 802.11 airwaves. In a post on the Mozilla blog, the company outlined four new projects designed to integrate Firefox technologies into connected devices and asked for volunteers to help test out the new stuff. If you are a developer and are interested in working on any of it, check out Project Link, Project Sensor Web, Project Smart Home or Project Vaani.

In gaming news, Capcom is spanking players who rage-quit its Street Fighter V game by docking their League Points for bad behavior.  So there! And Microsoft it just announced it was canceling development of its Fable Legends game for Xbox and closing Lionhead Studios in the United Kingdom and Press Play Studios in Denmark.

sfV

Also over in the House of Microsoft, the company has now enabled Skype chat right from OneDrive when you are collaborating on an Office Online document and just have to talk it out with your co-authors. And whispers around Redmond say Microsoft has pushed back the next big upfate to Windows 10, codenamed Redstone 2 from later this year to until spring of 2017 to better align with new device hardware on the way. No comment from Microsoft so far.

There’s a reportedly nasty piece of OS X ransomware out there, looking to lock up your Mac until you pay up. The malware, called KeRanger, only affects the Transmission BitTorrent client installer. If you use the program, here’s a link to more information. If you don’t use the program, you can skip the freak-out.

craigIn other Apple-related news, the Department of Justice is appealing last week’s federal court ruling in Brooklyn that said the government could not use the centuries-old All Writs Act force Apple to unlock a user’s iPhone. And Craig Federighi (shown here), Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering and fabulous hair, recently wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post explaining Apple’s stance in its ongoing fight with the FBI. Security experts have also weighed in on the matter in a recent Bloomberg News article that says the FBI should just hack the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone themselves since it would be faster.  There’s also some worry that if the US government forces Apple to start unlocking iPhones left and right for security reasons, the European Union privacy regulators will delay their verdict on the EU-US privacy shield agreement. (In other not-so-good legal news for Apple, the Supreme Court has declined to listen to the company’s appeal for the e-book price fixing case. Cue the sound of a very large check being written.)

Also in Europe, Google, Indexer of the Past, is expanding the European court-ordered Right to Be Forgotten.  However,  Americans mortified by their pasts lurking online still have nowhere to complain, even though a consumer advocacy group petitioned the Federal Trade Commission last year to make Google allow us Yanks to forget our documented-and- digitized discretions as well.

Verizon Wireless is having its own issues with the concept of privacy. The Federal Communications Commission (clearly having a busy year so far) has slapped the telecom giant with a $1.35 million dollar fine and a a three-year consent decree to settle the case of the privacy-chomping supercookies that first surfaced in 2014.

fiWhen it comes to Internet service providing, Google is mainly known for its Google Fiber broadband, but the company also has a lesser-known cellphone service that piggybacks on Sprint and T-Mobile networks. It’s called Project Fi and the reason you may have not heard of it before is that it was invitation-only since it launched last year. But as of this week, anybody with a Nexus 6, 6P or 5X can  get Project Fi service. You just need to go to (where else?) the Sign Up page to get started.

Amazon, keeping an eye on Apple’s legal punch-up with the DOJ, has now weighed in and said it was going to restore the device encryption capabilities it just yanked out of its Fire OS 5 software. Amazon said it originally took out the feature because no one was using it, but has now decided to re-enable the feature in an update to the system this spring.

rayAnd finally, we here at Pop Tech Jam offer out condolences to the family of Ray Tomlinson, the programmer credited with the modern invention of electronic mail with the groovy little @ sign back in 1971. Mr. Tomlinson passed away last week at the age of 74. He was a member of the Internet Hall of Fame and said he picked the @ sign because it just “made sense.”  Thank you, Ray Tomlinson, for setting the standard.

Requirements Reading

San Francisco’s Moscone Center is still standing after a busy spring of developer conferences, where this year’s major new operating systems have now all been previewed on the way to release. If Windows 10, Android M, El Capitan or iOS 9  has caught your eye — but you’re not quite sure if your hardware can handle it — here’s a quick refresher on the system requirements you’ll need to update. Keep in mind, though, that some of these specs are based on pre-release software and could change by the time the final edition hits the download queue. And remember,  if you have older hardware, you may have limited functionality and not get all the features in that new release, so don’t expect to suddenly get things like Siri or Apply Pay with iOS 9 on an iPad 2.

Windows 10

Windows 10 is arriving at the end of next month, so it’ll likely be the first new system here. The official specifications are still being tweaked, but the system as been in preview for months, so expect to meet these requirements from Microsoft:

Latest OS: Make sure you are running the latest version either Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update.
Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS
Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
Display: 800×600

These are minimum requirements and more power, memory and space are always better for happy computing.

win10logo

The Windows 10 Preview had a few other bullet points that will likely still hold true for the final release:

  • Windows 10 will scan your system for a current subscription to an AV product and sideline incompatible versions.
  • If you have Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8 Pro with Media Center, or Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center and you install Windows 10, Windows Media Center will be removed.
  • Watching DVDs requires separate playback software.
  • Windows 7 desktop gadgets will be removed as part of installing Windows 10.
  • Windows 10 Home users will have updates from Windows Update automatically available.
  • Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Hearts Games that come pre-installed on Windows 7 will be removed as part of installing the Windows 10 upgrade. Microsoft has released our version of Solitaire and Minesweeper called the “Microsoft Solitaire Collection” and “Microsoft Minesweeper.”
  • If you have a USB floppy drive, you will need to download the latest driver from Windows Update or from the manufacturer’s website.
  • If you have Windows Live Essentials installed on your system, the OneDrive application is removed and replaced with the inbox version of OneDrive.
  • Cortana is only currently available on Windows 10 for the United States, United Kingdom, China, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain.

Android M

The next version of Google’s mobile operating system is expected in the third quarter of this year, or as normal people call it, autumn.  Nexus devices will get the good first and an official preview of Android M is already available for the Nexus 5,6, 9 and Nexus player devices. Android fan sites are busy compiling projected release schedules for non-Nexus devices.

MThe Android Police blog is reporting that Google plans to guarantee major system updates for Nexus devices for two years, and security patches for three years from an Android version’s release date. But on that timetable, several existing Nexus devices would not get the Android M update, including the Nexus 4, Nexus 10 and Nexus 7 (2012). But the older tablets will still receive security patches and the Nexus 7 of 2013 should still be eligible if this is Google’s plan. (Then again, many owners of older Nexus devices complained that Lollipop sandbagged their gadgets and they wanted to downgrade, so maybe missing the M train here is not a bad thing.)

OS X 10.11 El Capitan

elcapNewer systems are always going to run better on newer hardware, but basically, if your Mac can run OS X Yosemite or OS X Mavericks, it can probably to run OS X El Capitan. All Macs released over the past five years are supported. Specifically, the supported minimum Mac model list includes the following hardware:

iMac (Mid-2007 or newer)
MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or newer)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or newer), (15-inch, Mid / Late 2007 or newer), (17-inch, Late 2007 or newer)
MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
Mac Mini (Early 2009 or newer)
Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)

The Mac must have a 64-bit CPU, so that pretty much means an Intel Core 2 Duo or later under the hood. You’ll also need a few gigabytes of available disk space to install the final version on your Mac, which is typical for updating any system software.

AboutThisMac

Can’t remember when you got your Mac or the chip it’s got beathing under its aluminum or plastic skin? From your desktop, go to the Apple menu ( ) to About this Mac. For Macs running older versions of OS X, click More Info, otherwise select Overview to see your machine’s details (as shown here) and plan accordingly.

iOS9

ios9logoExpect the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system to land during the annual breathless media event that’s traditionally held in September to unveil new iPhones. Making the move to iOS 9 may be much easier than that heavy lift to iOS 8 that some people experienced. Remember when you needed a massive 4.6 GB of free storage space to download and wedge the update on your device last year? Apple says iOS 9 will only require 1.3 GB by comparison, so even 16GB iPhone and iPad users will have an easier time upgrading.

Space issues aside, as a general rule of thumb, if your iDevice is currently chugging along on either iOS 8 and iOS 7, it can run iOS 9. Apple says supported hardware includes:

iPad Air
iPad Air 2
iPad Mini
iPad Mini 2
iPad Mini 3
iPad 4th generation
iPad 3rd generation
iPad 2
iPhone 6 Plus
iPhone 6
iPhone 5S
iPhone 5C
iPhone 5
iPhone 4S
iPod Touch 5th generation

Oh, and before all these upgrades start flying? Back up your current computer and/or device regularly, especially right before you download a new operating system. Those tears you shed should be from joy at your groovy new software — and not frustration because something went horribly wrong and you have no backup.

Google’s Nexus Keyboard is Now Available as a Standalone App

If you’ve listened to this week’s COLLECTOR’S EDITION 50th EPISODE OF POP TECH JAM (shame on you if you haven’t) you know all about my travails attempting to root a Samsung Galaxy S4 phone. I don’t want to spoil things for anyone so let’s just say it did not go well.

One of the main reasons for my attempted rooting was to allow installation of awesome new applications from small, nimble developers that are passionate about what they do. I looked forward to loading bar-raising apps that would extend the functionality of Samsung’s well regarded new flagship phone far beyond what its bloatware ladened factory image would allow. Ironically, the app that has most dramatically improved the phone’s functionality and usability is as far from revolutionary as you can get and was developed by a huge corporate behemoth. Oh, and it doesn’t need superuser permissions.

Screenshot_2013-06-07-16-43-13

Google Keyboard, free from Google’s app market Play, is the same stock Android keyboard found on the Nexus series of tablets and phones and on plain vanilla installs of Android made available as a standalone application. While the Galaxy S4 is an exceptional smartphone, its most glaring weakness, beyond the many useless apps it crams onto the phone, is the keyboard. The Samsung keyboard is inaccurate, offers up terrible predictions and is pretty much useless for anyone who has large fingers.

In contrast, the free Google keyboard app is accurate, has a voice dictation option and a gesture typing feature that lets you slide your finger across the keyboard without lifting it from the screen to enter a word.  The Swype app from Nuance does a much better job at this sort of modified “keying” but Google’s version is very effective. I would rate it above Swiftkey’s Flow for accuracy but below Swype.

If you find the Samsung Touchwiz or the HTC Sense keyboards difficult to use or just too inaccurate to trust try Google Keyboard before shelling out cash for a replacement app. While the other apps may offer more fancy features the Google app does yeoman’s work. And did I mention it’s free? We LOVE free around here…

Episode 20 News: Love and Rockets

Google is getting serious about having nice-looking apps designed for tablets running the Android system posting its “tablet app quality checklist” on the Android Developer’s site this week. That could come in handy, say for developers working on something like a 10-inch Nexus tablet co-produced by Google and Samsung. (But while the big tech companies may be slugging it out in the Tablet Wars, many of the big names are joining together with the World Wide Web Consortium to create a community resource site for developers called Web Platform Docs.)

Apple’s latest iPods are beginning to ship out to customers who pre-ordered them last month and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 handsets will be available for pre-order in the US on October 21st. If Windows 8 has your attention, Acer announced another Windows 8 tablet headed to stores on November 9th  — the Iconia W510 , which joins the larger Iconia W700 tablet (due October 26th ) in the Win8Tab world.

On the malware front, Skype users on Windows machines need to keep a look out for malicious instant messages with a question about a “profile pic” and a link full of nasty software that loops the PC into a botnet. And Facebook, ever tinkering with profile layouts and everything else, is testing a new feature called “Collections” that’s aimed at retailers and those who like to shop.

Curiosity continues to rove around Mars, but that’s not the only space news this week. Despite a failed engine and a mishap with a satellite, the private company SpaceX sent up a Dragon cargo capsule on top of a Falcon 9 rocket with 882 pounds of supplies for the International Space Station.

Back on Earth, Boxee, a streaming TV set-top box, is said to be adding an HDTV antenna and a digital video recorder to its next model. Free over-the-air TV and plenty of Web streams could make you forget all about the cable company. And if you’re looking for something to watch on broadcast TV, check out TG Daily’s guide to genre TV this season. Who knows, some of these shows may help pass the time until the Doctor returns.

Episode 06: Yankee Doodle Jamming

Independence Holiday here in the U.S. but no rest for J.D. and Pedro. Google introduces new Nexus branded gear, Facebook’s default email kerfuffle continues, and Amazon gets knocked off of its cloud. Pedro explains cramming in a new Tech Term and J.D. has helpful hints for protecting electronics from the summer sun.