Apple unleashes a second fall product announcement and while most of the updates were expected, they still managed to surprise. J.D. has a Hopefully Helpful Hint detailing how to configure Twitter and other services to deliver emergency alerts directly to your smartphone. In the news, Nokia holds what could be their last phone hardware event before the unit becomes part of Microsoft; Microsoft’s new Surface 2 tablets arrived in stores and Windows 8.1 was finally made available to the public — but not without problems; Lenovo launches a new Android-based convertible laptop/tablet; BlackBerry releases the long-awaited Android and iOS versions of its popular BlackBerry Messenger software; Google provides free voice calling; Netflix continues its surge; and a British mathematician develops a formula for the perfect pizza. The podcast revolution continues…
Over yonder in Abu Dhabi, the Finnish firm Nokia held its presumed last phone hardware event before the phone unit melds into Microsoft. As for Microsoft, the company’s next generation of Surface 2 tablets arrived in stores earlier this week. Last week saw the arrival of Windows 8.1, which will hopefully bring some relief to people who were hating on 8. Download Day was not without its problems, however, including installation errors and the unceremonious yanking back of the Windows 8.1 RT update for what Microsoft termed “a situation” and several users called “the blue screen of death that won’t let my tablet boot.” Microsoft released a Surface RT recovery image two days later.
Code explorers poking around version 4.4 of Google Play think they’ve found signs that Google is planning its own Android-based Newsstand in the near future. And as we’ve seen with other products, Android’s not just for tablets anymore. Lenovo, maker of giant 29-inch desktop computers, also has a new Android-based convertible laptop/tablet. No word on if the Lenovo A10 will hit the US yet, but is available in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asian Pacific countries.
Facebook had a case of the Monday Morning Blahs this week — the site was acting erratic and refused to let its users post comments or photos, update their status lines, send messages or “like” posts. “Network maintenance” was eventually blamed for the issues.
The hardware may have tanked, but BlackBerry was able to put out Android and iOS versions of its popular BlackBerry Messenger software that was formerly constrained to BlackBerry devices. The company reported that six million people signed up for information about the app before it was released.
Also in app news, Google has added free voice calling to its Google Hangouts app for iOS. The updated version of the iOS app arrived last Friday and brought with it free in-app voice calling to numbers within the U.S. and Canada, plus incoming call support to a user’s Google Voice number.
On the entertainment front, Netflix announced that it now has 40 million subscribers worldwide and announced that its quarterly earnings had quadrupled. Orange Is the New Black, the women’s-prison drama that arrived in July, is the company’s most-watched original series ever. And the Hollywood Reporter and Variety are both reporting that Tim Burton and Michael Keaton are in talks for a sequel to 1988’s Beetlejuice.
Feeling hungry? A mathematician at the University of Sheffield in England has calculated a formula that is supposed to create the “perfectly proportioned margherita pizza.” Dr. Eugenia Cheng’s equation factors in the volume of dough, the constant volume of toppings, and the ratio between base to topping to find the “optimum mouthful.” (Who cares about P versus NP when the optimum mouthful problem has been licked?)
Oh, yeah. Apple had an event on Tuesday. It announced some stuff, namely the release of OS X Mavericks, new MacBook Pro laptops, more information on the tubular Mac Pro, new free iLife and iWork software and, oh, new iPads. Time to start guessing when the iPhone 6 will arrive!
Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference collided squarely with the Electronic Entertainment Expo this week and as we found out, WWDC + E3 = one cubic buttload of competing product announcements.
At the WWDC keynote speech on Monday, Tim Cook and the Apple corps showed off all kinds of new and forthcoming Apple wares, including OS X Mavericks (10.9), new MacBook Airs, a creatively shaped Mac Pro, iWork in the Cloud, iTunes Radio and a revamped iOS 7. Except for the new MacBook Airs, most of this stuff will officially arrive this fall. Thorough conference-news roundups and beta peeks are here at Macworld, Ars Technica, and Cult of Mac, plus you can read Apple’s press releases on the new hardware and software and even watch a replay of the keynote speech here.
Meanwhile, down at E3, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and other game companies also gave fans a sneak peek at upcoming titles. Sony showed off new games and made the faithful happy by revealing the new $399 PlayStation 4 — and announcing that it was not going to charge people to play used games on the console when it arrives this holiday season. (Online multiplayer gaming on the PS4, however, will cost you.)
Microsoft, while showing off its impressive $499 Xbox One hardware (due out in November) and games, had more of a PR problem thanks to new policies on used games and the need for frequent online check-ins to keep the console running. This sort of thing makes many gamers unhappy, perhaps even terribly vexed.
Still on the fence between the PS4, Xbox One or even the Nintendo Wii U? Compare the hardware spex. And start saving your money for all the new stuff coming this fall.