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Review: Updated: Google Apps for Work 2016

Uncategorized August 31, 2016

Review: Updated: Google Apps for Work 2016

Latest news

[Editor’s Note: What immediately follows is a rundown of the latest developments and features Google has added to Apps for Work since this review was first written.]

August 2016

  • A new Google Hangouts Chrome extension was pushed out allowing for multiple chat windows to be incorporated into one, and making more chat content readily visible.
  • Google introduced a ‘Cast…’ function in the main menu of Chrome, and this can be used to share the contents of a browser tab – or the whole desktop – into a Hangout session.
  • Forms received a new feature which allows the insertion of images into surveys, so you can now do things like have a multiple choice question with pictures for answers.
  • The Android apps for Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides were improved to make it easier to create tables and better looking charts.
  • A couple of security tweaks were applied to Gmail, the most important of which is that the webmail service will now issue a warning about a link if it leads to a known malware site.
  • Inbox got integration with Trello and GitHub, so Trello users will receive a summary of what’s new with projects, and GitHub denizens will get a summary of code changes.
  • Google Drive’s preview feature was improved to make viewing previews of stored files a slicker experience, with a cleaner UI and better zoom functionality.

July 2016

  • Google introduced a new scheme to help train employees on its productivity suite, with the system designed to act like a ‘virtual coach’ to help users learn when IT staff aren’t around.
  • Google tweaked the Admin app for Android to let delegated admins (and not just super admins) use the software to access functions while out and about.
  • Google gave the Admin console some attention in terms of two-step verification, allowing admins to view the real-time status of where each user is in the 2SV enrolment process.
  • Apps for Work is apparently being muscled out by Microsoft’s Office 365, at least if sentiment from Redmond’s Worldwide Partner Conference is on the money.
  • Google launched the new Quizzes feature in the Forms app, designed to allow teachers to easily create and mark assessments for students.

June 2016

  • Google Springboard was announced, a search tool (currently being tested) that can be used to quickly find things across Google Apps, plus it makes proactive recommendations.
  • Google Sites got revamped with a new preview version boasting a simple drag-and-drop design which is more intuitive, and support for real-time collaboration was introduced.
  • A ‘new and notable’ section was introduced to the Google Apps Marketplace, in order to highlight the best third-party apps available to businesses.
  • The Android and iOS apps for Google Docs and Sheets gained the ability to edit content in Print layout view, and to edit existing conditional formatting rules in Sheets.
  • Google tweaked Docs, Sheets and Slides so notifications of comments made not only arrive via email, but you can also get a notification on your Android device or web browser.

May 2016

  • Google announced its new Spaces messaging app designed for small groups – but there’s no news as yet on when (or indeed whether) it will come to Apps for Work.
  • At Google I/O new APIs were introduced for Sheets, giving developers a “new level of access” to some of the most popular features in the app.
  • New APIs were also brought to Slides allowing developers to easily push data from other third-party apps into Slides for maximum convenience.
  • Google revealed that Android apps will be available for Chromebooks, and this opens up more productivity possibilities including using the Android version of Microsoft Word.
  • Google integrated its BigQuery service with Google Drive, allowing users to query files directly from Drive, and save query results from the BigQuery UI directly to Google Sheets.
  • Google Slides benefited from a new Q&A feature that lets audience members submit questions to the speaker directly from their mobile devices during a presentation.
  • The Synergyse service was fully integrated with Google Apps, a virtual assistant that helps train users in the various apps and was previously a Chrome extension.
  • Google Drive and Evernote were integrated, allowing Evernote users to seamlessly access any file on Drive.

April 2016

  • Google Apps for Work received two new certifications: ISO 27017 for cloud security and ISO 27018 for privacy.
  • A new ‘Find a Time’ feature arrived in Google Calendar for Android, allowing mobile users to find convenient times for meetings when they’re on the go.
  • Google’s scheme of providing Apps for free to medium-sized firms who want to migrate over but are locked into an Enterprise Agreement was extended until the end of 2016.
  • Reminders pitched up in the web version of Google Calendar, and said reminders will sync across browsers and mobile devices.

March 2016

  • The Google Admin app received bolstered mobile device management capabilities, allowing for admins to handle security breaches even when they’re out and about.
  • Research into the most-used business apps on the web ranked Google Apps for Work in fourth place – behind Office 365, Salesforce.com and Box.
  • Google launched its #maketime website, which aims to help you prioritise how you spend time during work hours, and highlight how Google Apps for Work can save you time.
  • Google expanded support for its Identity Platform to cover logins for far more third-party apps in the Google Apps Marketplace, including Office 365 and Facebook at Work.
  • A whole bunch of new templates were added to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.

February 2016

  • Gmail’s existing Data Loss Prevention features got a boost with the addition of OCR for scanning attachments and additional predefined content detectors.
  • Google also gave Gmail the ability to flag email accounts that it deems ‘insecure’.
  • Google Docs was enhanced with voice typing, allowing users to dictate to their word processor, and also access editing and formatting commands.
  • Google Forms gained support for add-ons and the ability to edit Apps Scripts, plus work and education-related templates were introduced to the home screen.
  • The Gmail for Android app received support for rich text formatting, and an option for one-tap instant RSVPs was introduced.

January 2016

  • Instant comments were introduced to Google Docs, allowing users to click a simple icon to add an immediate comment to a document.
  • The ability to add comments arrived in the Sheets and Slides apps for both Android and iOS.
  • Google further bolstered the Sheets Android app with the ability to open and edit CSV and TSV files, along with additional files supported for import and export.
  • Google Calendar for Android and iOS apps was graced with smart suggestions that pop up suggested event titles, places and people.
  • Search became more powerful across Google’s productivity suite, so when users search from Docs, Sheets, and Slides home screens, they get results from across all three apps.
  • Google rejigged device management in the Admin console, categorising the various settings to make everything easier to find.

Now move on to Page 2 for our full review and detailed look at what Google Apps for Work offers, including an evaluation of features, pricing, and ease-of-use.

Darren Allan contributed to this article

Introduction and pricing

For decades, the gold standard of office productivity software has been Microsoft Office – it inherited IBM’s status as the technology nobody got fired for buying. But while Office is undoubtedly powerful, many of its users don’t use many of its features. So why pay for things your organisation doesn’t use?

That’s the rationale behind Google Apps for Work, formerly Google Apps for Business. Where Office tries to do everything imaginable, Google Apps is much more basic. That said, it’s much more powerful than it was when the suite debuted in 2006, but the emphasis on simplicity and speed remains.

Apps and pricing

Google Apps for Work is organised into four categories spanning eleven products. Under Communicate you’ll find Gmail, Hangouts and Calendar; under Store there’s Google Drive; under Collaborate there’s Docs, Sheets, Forms, Slides and Sites; and under Manage there’s Admin and Vault. That final one is designed to archive corporate email in organisations that have to retain data for regulatory compliance.

And as ever, the pricing is refreshingly simple. The base product is £3.30 ($5.66) per user per month, and the Premium version is £6.60 ($11.32) per user per month. If your organisation is an educational establishment, Google also has a version for you: Google Apps for Education is free.

While we’re on the subject of free apps, you can of course get Gmail, Docs, Sheets and other Google apps for free – so why spend money? The short answer is that the paid-for version gives you more storage, management, and the ability to use your own domain – so emails come from @yourcompany.com instead of @gmail.com.

Users on the base version of Google Apps for Work get 30GB of storage, which is twice the amount of the free products, and users on the Premium version get unlimited storage, while you also get improved admin controls and the Vault email archive. Both the base and premium versions come with HD videoconferencing via Hangouts and 24/7 phone, chat and email support.

Slides

How does it compare to Office?

Google’s main rival here is of course Microsoft, and Redmond’s Office 365 comes with a number of price tags attached depending on which version you want and how many users you’re planning on giving it to.

Microsoft has cut the price of Office 365 to make it more competitive, and it now comes in four tiers: Office 365 Business Essentials, which is £3.10 per user per month; Office 365 Business, which is £7 per user per month; Office 365 Business Premium, which is £7.80 per user per month; and Office 365 Enterprise E3, which is £14.70 per user per month. The first three plans are limited to a maximum of 300 users per year.

The most basic version of Office 365 offers web-based versions of Office apps, 1TB of storage per user plus a 50GB email inbox, unlimited online meetings and HD videoconferencing, plus business-focused social networking for collaborating across departments.

The next step up, Business, offers full Office apps for desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone along with 1TB of storage, but not the extra 50GB email inboxes. If you want that and the desktop/mobile apps too, you’ll need Office 365 Business Premium. As with Google there’s 24-hour web support and phone support for “critical issues”.

One deal-breaker here might be compliance: Microsoft’s compliance tools are limited to the Enterprise product, which is twice the price of Google Apps for Work Premium.

Setup

Setup

The sign-up process takes mere seconds and once you’ve created your account you’ll be taken to the Admin Console. This has eight key options: users, company profile, billing, reports, apps, device management, security and support.

It’s possible to add users in two ways – manually, or by uploading a CSV file containing multiple user details. Once you’ve done that you can then specify which apps they can use, so for example you might want to let users access email but not Google Hangouts. You can also disable unwanted apps globally.

One of the most interesting sections here is Mobile Device Management, which enables you to mandate passwords and Google Sync on user devices, to encrypt data, configure Wi-Fi and to enable or disable automatic syncing and the device’s camera.

You can also remotely wipe devices either manually or automatically if they haven’t been synchronised for a specified period.

Sheets

The Admin Console also contains some additional tools: group creation, third-party apps, domain management and settings for other free Google services such as Google Analytics, AdWords, Google+ and Google App Engine.

The optional Vault, which doubles the per-user price from £3.30 ($5.66) per month to £6.60 ($11.32), is designed for organisations that need to retain email and chat data and other digital information for regulatory compliance.

You can set data retention options globally or based on particular dates, groups or search terms, search the archive using the familiar Google search field, and you can audit the data and export it for further analysis. It doesn’t store all communications, however – any chats marked off the record aren’t stored.

If you’re not sure whether you require Vault or if it isn’t currently necessary, it’s possible to upgrade to the with-Vault version from within your Google Apps for Work Admin Console.

Tools and features

Create: Docs, Sheets, Slides and Sites

Google’s apps come in two forms – cross-platform, browser-based apps and mobile apps for iOS and Android. Microsoft’s mobile OS isn’t supported beyond Google Sync for mail, contacts and calendars.

It’s worth noting that the browser apps only use local storage if you’re using the Chrome browser or Chrome OS, although the standalone Google Drive desktop app keeps everything in sync if you prefer a different web browser (and of course Gmail is widely supported by desktop email software and mobile email apps). The features available offline differ from product to product and platform to platform.

Docs, Sheets and Slides are Google’s equivalents of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, although a more accurate comparison would be to Apple’s most recent iWork apps – the emphasis is on simplicity and ease of use rather than power features.

That’s particularly apparent in Slides, which also appears to prize simplicity over making presentations that don’t look absolutely awful.

We wouldn’t want to craft a massive, complicated manuscript in Docs, but then that isn’t what Docs is designed to do. It’s a fast and user-friendly way to create everyday documents and to share them with colleagues and clients. The companion Drawing app adds functions such as WordArt-style text effects, simple image creation, diagrams and flow charts.

It’s a similar story with Sheets, which covers the most common Excel functions (including pivot tables) but doesn’t have the power of Microsoft’s offering. It is improving, though, and now that it supports Google’s App Script add-ons it’s possible to automate workflows and develop custom apps – although it’s still way behind Microsoft here.

There are two additional apps for creating content: Forms, which as the name suggests is for creating and completing online forms, and Sites, which can be used to create shared pages on the intranet or public internet. Sites is a template-driven affair and while it won’t give professional web designers any nightmares, it’s an effective way to publish web content without any knowledge of web content creation.

Docs

Collaboration and compatibility

Online collaboration has been baked into Google Apps from the outset, and sharing documents with colleagues or clients is effortless. The Revision History panel tracks changes and there’s a separate panel for comments, which can be notified via email as well as in the app.

Sharing is a one-button affair, with options including public, anyone with the correct link, anyone within the organisation, or sharing only with a specified group of people. These options only apply to unpublished documents, however – anything published via the Publish to the Web option, which makes an online copy of the current document, is publicly available.

In addition to the obligatory Microsoft Office formats, Google Apps also supports documents including Open Document Format, Rich Text Format, PDF, plaintext and zipped HTML. Spreadsheets can be saved as CSV and tab-delimited files, and presentations can be output in SVG and PNG formats.

The big selling point here is importing rather than exporting, however – it’s useful to be able to bring non-Google documents into Google Apps for Work and make them editable and collaborative.

Google Apps also includes Google’s Hangouts service, which you can make available for text, voice and video calls with anybody or limit conversations to just those people who are members of the same organisation. Hangouts can be shared with up to 15 people and used for video chat, presentation sharing or screen sharing.

Verdict

We liked

Google Apps for Work is very competitively priced and easy to administer. While the various apps aren’t quite as fully featured as power users might like, they’re more than adequate for most everyday office work.

We disliked

The apps may be too simple for some organisations, and not everybody loves Google’s software interface – although it’s much better than it used to be. You also might not be comfortable with the thought that your company’s communications are being scanned by Google.

Final verdict

Rather than be all things to all men and women, Google Apps for Work is content to cover the basics and to cover them well. It’s fast, lightweight and works on a wide range of devices, and it’s both easy to use and easy to administer.

If Google’s apps cover the features your users will need every day, it’s a very compelling product for SMEs – and with 30 days to put it through its paces without providing any billing details, it’s a product you can test risk-free.


Source: TechRadar

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Updated: IFA 2016: What to expect from Samsung, Sony and co at Germany's big tech show

Uncategorized August 31, 2016

Updated: IFA 2016: What to expect from Samsung, Sony and co at Germany's big tech show

IFA 2016 latest news and rumors

Update: Samsung has announced the arrival of the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier and Samsung Gear S3 Classic smartwatches. Given Samsung had teased and teased again that these wearables were coming, it wasn’t the biggest surprise but they look like real Apple Watch rivals.

IFA 2016 is underway, and we’re more excited than ever to see what Berlin has in store.

TVs normally dominate the show, but last year saw an influx of smartwatches from the likes of Samsung, Motorola and Huawei. A number of phone announcements were also thrown in for good measure: Sony unveiled two Xperia Z5s, the Compact and the Premium, while Huawei showed off the Mate S and G8. And this year we’re set for more of the same.

The official IFA 2016 dates are September 2 to September 7, but lots of press conferences are taking place on Wednesday, August 31 and Thursday, September 1. Some of the biggest names in tech have descended on the Messe Berlin, and we’re on the ground to bring you the latest news and first-hand impressions of everything that’s announced.

Read on for a complete company-by-company breakdown of the news and rumors we’ve heard so far about IFA 2016, and head to Page 2 for some of our pre-show predictions.

Head to the bottom of this page to take our IFA 2016 poll!

Samsung

Samsung Gear S3

It’s been quite a year for Samsung already, one that was recently punctuated by the debut of the Galaxy Note 7.

But Samsung isn’t done with 2016 yet. It has two IFA events planned – one of which has happened.

Before the press conference, we knew the main draw of its August 31 mobile event and September 1 press conference would be the Gear S3 smartwatch. How did we know? Because Sammy gave it away.

The company’s press conference invite features two watch hands, strongly implying a smartwatch will highlight the event. With the Gear S2 announced at IFA 2015, it only makes sense Samsung is gearing up to unveil its successor.

Samsung IFA invite

While the rumor was that it was going to reveal THREE smartwatches – the Gear S3 Classic, Gear S3 Explorer and Gear S3 Frontier – only two were actually released. Here’s everything you need to know about both.

In our hands on Samsung Gear S3 Frontier review, we call the smartwatch one of the most capable and attractive active-focused wearables we’ve seen yet. It is the active version of the Gear S3 – a rugged smartwatch with LTE connectivity, that’s slightly chunky but a big upgrade on the Samsung Gear S2.

The second iteration of the S3 looks more like a watch you would wear everyday. In our hands on Samsung Gear S3 Classic review, we noted that it was near identical specs wise with the Frontier but just had a fancy new look.

Both watches measure 46 x 49 x 12.9mm but the Frontier is a little heavier, at 62g, compared to the Classic’s svelte 57g.

But watches aren’t all that’s buzzing about Samsung. Thanks to a posting on the company’s Colombian website, we know the Galaxy Tab S3 tablet is very real. It’ll have similar qualities to the Galaxy Tab S2, yet outshine it “with some innovations”, the website notes.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

While the post doesn’t specifically mention an IFA unveiling, it does say the tablet will launch to support the Galaxy Note 7 release in September. Though the Note 7 landed in the US in mid-August, it’s coming to other regions, including the UK, once September strikes.

All of this is to say that it makes perfect sense for Samsung to unveil the Galaxy Tab S3 at its IFA press event. The Tab S2 earned good marks in our review, though it stood to improve in a few areas, including battery life.

Other Samsung innovations planned for IFA include stuff on the home goods front, including its two-door Family Hub refrigerator for the European market. The firm also announced new curved Quantum Dot displays will be on hand, which we can’t wait to get our eyes on.

Sony

Sony always comes to IFA packing goodies, and this year it looks like the PS4 maker won’t disappoint. It sent out a tweet on August 25 asking whether the world is “Ready to be inspired?”, so we can only imagine it’s ready to blow us away.

Just like the tweet, the invite for Sony’s September 1 press conference features a wide range of gadgets, from headphones to an Xperia phone to the PlayStation VR to cameras to a television set.

Sony Xperia X Performance

While Sony will likely limit its announcements to a few core products, we expect it to unveil at least one phone in Germany.

Recent benchmarks revealed a new Sony handset that’s sporting some serious high-end specs. Those include a Snapdragon 820 processor, 3GB of RAM, a 21MP rear camera and 12MP front-facing one, and a 5.1-inch 1080p screen.

The unnamed device’s specs line up with Sony’s current flagship, the Xperia X Performance, though are behind the Samsung Galaxy S7. The phone could be the long-awaited Xperia X2, and a big-stage announcement at its September 1 press conference seems likely.

Sony IFA 2016

Also on August 25, noted leaker Evan Blass took to Twitter to send out an image of what he says is the Sony Xperia X Compact. The device is said to have a small 4.6-inch display, similar to the Sony Z5 Compact. Also of note is the relocation of the earpiece and speaker to sit more deeply into the bezel, as well as the front-facing camera, much like we’ve seen with the Sony Xperia X.

Though tiny, the new Xperia X Compact could pack a punch if it debuts at IFA this week.

Fitbit

Flipping back to the wearables theme, Fitbit is making the trek to Berlin this year, though what it’s packing is no longer a surprise.

Just days before IFA, Fitbit made the Fitbit Flex 2 and Fitbit Charge 2 official.

Fitbit Flex 2

Both bands house some exciting new features. The Flex 2, for one, can be worn while swimming. The Charge 2, meanwhile, is slimmer than its predecessor, though its screen has undergone a size upgrade.

This is the first major update for the Flex and Charge since 2013 and 2014, respectively. We’ll get our wrists on the new wearables – which cost $99 and $149, respectively – before long, so stay tuned.

LG

With LG launching its V20 flagship phone on September 6 in San Francisco, it’s left many to wonder what exactly it will announce all the way in Berlin. Here’s what we’ve heard.

LG G5

Word is LG will come to IFA with the third generation of its Flex line in tow, the LG G Flex 3. A PhoneArena report from way back in May suggests the LG G Flex 2 successor will feature a 5.5-inch 1440 x 2560 screen, a Snapdragon 820 chip, 4GB of RAM, 16MP camera and, most intriguingly, a modular design.

LG went modular with the LG G5, so it could carry that over to the G Flex 3 – and the V20, for that matter.

Prior to IFA, LG announced a new line of Bluetooth speakers that it will feature at its booth. The PH1, PH2, PH3 and PH4 models look to be stylish accents for any setting, though we’ll have to get our ears on them to see how they stack up.

LG speakers

We can always count on LG unveiling new TVs at IFA, and LG has said it will demonstrate three High Dynamic Range (HDR) technologies at the show, including Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) technology.

What’s more, the firm says it “will be the first to publicly demonstrate HDR technology combining High Frame Rate (HFR) with HLG content.” Able to reach speeds of 100/120 frames per second, the HFR demonstration will go off with help from the BBC and European Broadcasting Union. It should be fascinating.

Finally, LG also pre-announced new 21:9 curved gaming displays. We’re sensing a theme with these curved monitors…

HTC

We hadn’t heard much about HTC pre-IFA until just a few days before the show.

Word coming from noted leaker Evan Blass of VentureBeat is that HTC is plotting to unveil the HTC One A9s, successor to the One A9, at IFA.

HTC One A9s

Like the phone that came before it, the One A9s looks an awful like an iPhone. Hopefully, a copycat design doesn’t detract from the phone’s performance – it’s said to have a 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front snapper – but we could know all if the phone is announced on September 1, as rumor has it.

Huawei

Huawei came out swinging at IFA 2015 with the Mate S and G8 smartphones, plus pricing details for the Huawei Watch. We expect more of the same at this year’s show.

On August 22, the phone maker tweeted a teaser for its September 1 press conference. The image, shown below, looks to feature the edge of a phone, and it touted “Defy Expectations” as the event’s tagline.

Huawei IFA 2016

Huawei then proceeded to go on a teaser tweeting spree, with each blast hinting strongly that a phone is on the way this week. What’s more, the tweets seem to strongly suggest the handset will house a powerful camera and capable flash.

How are these for teases: “Stay moving, stand still. See the results”, “Even if you’re in the dark, it doesn’t mean you can’t be sharp”, “Always camera ready, never camera shy. Coming 1st September”, and finally, “Colour, clarity and sharpness. Capture it all”?

An analyst floated the rumor that the company is planning a device called the Huawei NOVA, a phone that’s supposedly geared towards women. Many of the tweets feature flashes of light – is that a not-so-subtle hint the NOVA is about to burst onto the scene?

Huawei IFA 2016

Then, Evan Blass was back at it again, tweeting on August 29 that the “Huawei Nova, Nova Plus and MediaPad M3 launching at IFA.” The Nova Plus we figure to be a bigger version of the Nova, while the MediaPad M3 would be the company’s next tablet.

Recent Weibo leaks (via Pocketlink) also point to the Huawei Mate 9, a 5.9-inch phablet. It looks to feature a dual-camera set-up, much like the Huawei P9 and Honor 8, the latter of which was recently launched in the US. Again, the camera figures to be a big focus for this phone.

Other rumors suggest Huawei will use IFA 2016 to unveil a new sub-brand, one that focuses on mid-range smartphones – the first of which could be the device we see in the teasers.

To follow along with the press event, check out Huawei’s minisite, which is counting down the hours till September 1.

Logitech

Logitech Silent Mouse

Logitech has revealed what could be the most intriguing mouse ever. It’s the first-ever silent mouse. The new Logitech M330 Silent Plus and M220 Silent Mouse have made sure when you press down on the mouse, not a click is heard – even though the buttons still offer a ‘click feel’.

Mind. Blown.

Lenovo and Motorola

Lenovo, which owns Motorola, has teased a number of announcements for IFA 2016, including new MotoMods for the Moto Z smartphone, a new tablet, and “a new kind of intuitive keyboard.”

It’s all in a video put out on Lenovo’s YouTube channel, and it’s chock full of quick looks at devices we’ll see in Berlin. You can see for yourself below:

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAFXI7Cff5g

Lenovo might also announce a new Moto 360 smartwatch for 2016, based on the wearable’s cameo in the teaser. We’ll find out all during the company’s August 31 press conference.

Asus

You’re ready for a Zenvolution, aren’t you? Well, Asus sure is, as that was the theme of its press conference this year.

Asus Zen Watch 3

On August 17, Asus tweeted “The time for something incredible is now! #IFA16 #ASUS”, indicating a new ZenWatch is indeed headed to the show.

And that’s exactly what we got. The Android Wear-toting Asus ZenWatch 3 is one of the first wearables to use the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 chipset. This means that it has a 25% boost in battery efficiency and some nifty HyperCharge technology means you will be able to juice up the watch in no time.

As you can see from the picture, Asus has discarded the lozenge-style fascia and has made its new watch round – coming with a fairly standard 1.39-inch OLED display with a 400×400 resolution.

Asus also announced a number of new monitors and this rather stylish Asus ZenBook 3. We have already seen the ZenBook 3 but this was one with an upgraded chipset – it’s got Core i7 Kaby Lake CPUs inside. There was also the ZenScreen MB16AC which weighs 800g and is 8mm thin – which makes it the world’s lightest and slimmest full HD portable monitor, according to the company.

Acer

Acer’s press conference has happened and it brought with it a number of laptop surprises.

Acer swift 7

Acer has announced what it is calling the ‘world’s thinnest laptop’. The Acer Swift 7 is the first laptop to duck in under the 1cm barrier – it’s just 9.98mm in height, comes encased in an all-aluminum chassis and has a 13.3-inch IPS screen.

Alongside the Acer Swift 7, the Acer Swift 5 was also announced, a 14-inch laptop with optional touchscreen. And there was the Acer Swift 3, the more budget offering that has an Intel Pentium or Celeron processor and 4GB of ram.

If convertibles are your thing, then Acer also announced the Acer Spin 7 (as well as the Spin 5 and 3). This laptop comes with a 360-degree hinge and can be used as a tablet.

Predator 21 X

If that wasn’t enough, Acer has also created a 21-inch gaming laptop with a curved screen. If that wasn’t enough, the gaming laptop also comes with a mechanical keyboard. The Acer Predator 21 X is one of the strangest, most wonderful laptops we have seen. It’s equipped with 5 fans, Core i7, and dual Nvidia GTX graphics cards to make sure you get the best out of your gaming. It also has eye tracking, so it can watch you cry tears of joy while you are using it.

Bang and Olufsen

Beosound

B&O has announced a brand-new patio heater, sorry speaker. The BeoSound 1 is a premium portable wireless speaker that can be controlled with your smartphone and looks like a patio heater because it offers 360-degree of sound. It’s also got Google Cast, AirPlay and DLNA integration.

If you want a more sizeable speaker, then there’s also the BeoSound 2, which runs off the mains and contains three extra power amplifiers.

ZTE and nubia

ZTE is set to host a press conference on September 1, and it’s *hear* the company will unveil a brand-new device.

That’s straight from ZTE’s mouth: the company tweeted a teaser for its September 1 press conference with the tagline “Right Hear Right Now.” Sound waves rippling across the image further indicate ZTE is readying a product for our ears.

ZTE IFA 2016 press conference

While a speaker or other audio-only device could be in the cards, the safe money is on a new Axon phone with souped-up sound capabilities. LG is placing a premium on sound for the V20, so it could be that sonics are the new camera in terms of manufacture focus when it comes to the next batch of smartphones.

Before ZTE takes the stage though, nubia, a sub-brand of the Chinese phone maker, has a reveal of its own.

nubia is hosting an August 31 gathering, and a minisite for the event teases we’re in for something that let’s us “dream without boundaries.” It’s a good tease, but the company’s press invites also say “flagship smartphone”, so we know what we’re in for.

ZTE nubia

The tagline could hint at a bezel-less phone, though it might also refer to the device’s camera. An image of what appears to be a camera sensor on the minisite indicates the handset’s snapper will be one of its main attractions.

The phone maker claims the nubia Z11, recently released in China, is bezel-less, so we could be in for the device’s international launch at IFA.

Panasonic

Although its press conference at IFA 2016 was mainly focused around its work surrounding smart cities and the connected home, Panasonic did include a couple of details about its home electronics offerings.

As well as teasing a new OLED TV prototype, the company also announced a new Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the DMP-UB700, which will be significantly cheaper than the company’s first 4K player that launched last year.

We can’t wait to see whether the player earns a place on our list of the best Ultra HD Blu-ray players.

DMP-UB700

Toshiba

Toshiba is, like many of its cohorts, coming to IFA, but it’s not just new TVs and printers we’ll see from the company in Berlin.

Toshiba

The firm revealed prior to show that it’s announcing “a partnership that changes the consumer electronics landscape in Europe” during its September 1 press conference.

Who this mystery partner is, we don’t yet know, but it sounds like we could be in for some fairly significant news from Toshiba. With the company no longer making consumer laptops, we’re left to think the partnership could deal with the B2B or home entertainment space.

Stay tuned for more news from IFA 2016!

Pre-IFA 2016 predictions

With the IFA’s start now rapidly approaching, we’ve got a much better idea what we might have in store, so read on for our top 5 predictions for this year’s IFA.

Prediction 1: Ultra HD Blu-rays will be big

samsung ultra hd blu ray player

When it comes to TVs, IFA tends to play second fiddle to January’s CES in Vegas where the majority of new sets are announced, but we wouldn’t be surprised if one of the big TV manufacturers dropped a couple more 4K TVs.

We’d be surprised if Sony has more to show after having recently unveiled its line of Z series TVs not to mention the TVs that were shown off at CES earlier this year, but it’s likely that Samsung, Panasonic, Philips and LG will have more to show off.

But we’re more excited to see what happens in the world of Ultra HD Blu-ray players.

Last year at IFA we had Samsung unveil the world’s first UHD Blu-ray player, and Panasonic and Philips have also recently released their first players, the DMP-UB900 and BDP7501 respectively.

To be honest, it might even make more sense this year than it did last year, as most major studios including Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures and Warner Brothers’s first round of UHD Blu-ray releases are just now hitting store shelves. There’s plenty more of these expensive, high-capacity discs to come later this year and throughout 2017 so we’re going to need a lot more players to deal with all those movies.

So this year we’re betting that at the very least Sony and LG will enter the Ultra HD Blu-ray arena to satisfy those of us who want our movies completely unencumbered by the constraints of 4K streaming.

Prediction 2: Ultra HD Premium will become the industry standard

ultra hd premium

Ultra HD is still in its relative infancy, and much like the early days of HD saw enormous consumer between the ‘HD Ready’ and ‘Full HD’ specifications, the current 4K market is full of TVs that don’t make full use of the new format.

The situation is improving, however. A standard, called Ultra HD Premium, has been decided upon by the UHD Alliance, but it’s still so new that Samsung’s recent UBD-K8500 Blu-ray player had to wait until two weeks after its release to receive its certification.

It will still be early in UHD’s lifespan come September, but we’re hoping that television manufacturers fully get behind the new standard.

The two biggest culprits behind the lag in adoption are Sony and Philips, two of the largest TV manufacturers in the world. Sony currently isn’t using the branding, despite both its equipment meeting the required specification and literally a member of the alliance that defined it, while Philips is currently refusing even to produce sets that meet the specification in the first place.

We’d like to see all manufacturers fully embrace the Ultra HD Premium standard at IFA this year, partly because reducing consumer confusion is always a good thing but mostly because additional features like HDR make TVs look absolutely phenomenal. Plus, it would be a shame to see adoption suffer because of poor communication and branding.

Prediction 3: No to VR, it’s just not IFA’s way

htc vive

The whole of the tech world might currently be going mad for VR (did you see our coverage of GDC 2016?), but it’s unlikely that we’ll see it make much of an impact at IFA this year.

Most of that immersive gaming VR content is likely to come out during E3 2016 in June, Gamescom in August, or the Tokyo Game Show in September, almost any other convention coming up this year except IFA. Sony also has plans to run its own PlayStation Experience event later on in December where it’ll likely be talking more about its PlayStation VR headset.

That’s not to say that VR manufacturers such as Samsung and HTC won’t be present at the show, but their focus will almost certainly be on their smartphone offerings. (See: Prediction 6.)

Prediction 4: Home automation will cross the threshold

samsung smartthings

Last year Samsung announced its SmartThings Hub to connect our lighting, thermostat, security monitoring and other systems in our homes to our growing list of smart devices.

We’re not convinced that home automation technology is a worthwhile investment yet for anyone who isn’t a hardcore early-adopter (if you haven’t read it yet, check out this home automation technology is a mess piece), but there’s always hope that this will be the year that some of the more serious kinks get ironed out.

These kinks currently include a lack of interoperability between different home automation brands – Google’s Nest thermostat doesn’t work with Samsung’s SmartThings hub, for example – and a complete lack of any one single killer feature.

These products also continue to be horrendously expensive compared to the relatively cheap products they’re aiming to replace.

IFA probably won’t see any massive announcements in that regard (that will probably come at CES next January) but, after Samsung used it for their SmartThings announcement last year, others might see it as a useful event to make an announcement at without being drowned out by the scale of CES.

Nest has also recently announced that it has open-sourced the networking protocol (called Thread) it uses for communication between its devices. This should in theory make it much easier for other manufacturers to connect their products into the Nest ecosystem. Will we see a swell of companies announcing connectivity with Nest devices at this year’s IFA?

Prediction 5: Ring, ring! It’s a bevy of new phones

huawei mate s

And, of course, no IFA would be complete without a couple of phone announcements to round out the show. IFA is the time of year, traditionally, when Samsung launches its new phablet, and we expect 2016’s event to be no different.

Along with a new jumbo handheld, we also reckon there will be more S Pen functions, a bigger battery, more power and hopefully some sultry S7 stylings.

Sony could also be poised to make an announcement at the show, and given the recent Sony benchmark leaks we could have a Snapdragon 820-equipped Xperia X2 with a 5.1-inch 1080p screen on our hands.

Then again, given that the Z5 was announced last year at IFA 2015 it could be that we’re about to see the announcement of the Xperia Z6 but Sony remaining tight-lipped on the status of its ‘Z’ line of phones, we’re not sure what form the new handset is going to take.

IFA is not traditionally a massive show for phones (you’d need to look towards Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress in February for that), but last year saw a couple of announcements, and we’ve got our fingers crossed that this year we’ll see a couple more.

Honorable mention: The insanity of last year

anti-snoring wearable

3D printed pizza, virtual reality gloves and a speaker rug all made an appearance at last year’s IFA, and we’d by lying if we said that we weren’t hoping for more weird and wonderful products to inject some diversity into a show that’s overwhelmingly about the big shiny tellys.

Internet connected trainers? Hover trousers? 3D printed 2D printers? Virtual reality dogs? Show us what you’re made of IFA.

We’ll see you in September.


Source: TechRadar

125 total views, 1 today

Bill Nye is getting a talk show on Netflix

Uncategorized August 31, 2016

Bill Nye attends the Disney Junior and XPRIZE launch of "Miles from Tomorrowland: Space Missions" at the New York Hall of Science on Thursday, July 16, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP) Bill Nye is getting a new TV show, thanks to Netflix.
The streaming video service announced that it will be launching a talk show with Nye next year, called Bill Nye Saves The World.
Nye, of course, helped introduced many ’90s kids (including me) to scientific thinking and concepts through the five seasons of his public television show Bill Nye The Science Guy (currently available on… Read More


Source: TechCrunch

105 total views, 0 today

Updated: Samsung Gear S3: release date and everything you need to know

Uncategorized August 31, 2016

Updated: Samsung Gear S3: release date and everything you need to know

Samsung Gear S3 price and release date

In a wearable world that’s mostly dominated by Apple Watch, the best fitness trackers, and Android Wear devices, the Tizen OS-running Samsung Gear S2 made quite the impression – and the Gear S3 duo offers some big improvements to the wrist-based smart thing.

There are, in fact, two Gear S3 models to choose from: the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier and the Samsung Gear S3 Classic – and they’re pretty much identical apart from slight design tweaks and connectivity.

Given Samsung’s one of the biggest makers of smartwatches behind Apple, and it’s been working hard on its own OS for the platform, any new device from the brand is a big deal. So let’s dig in to see what’s on offer:

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? Samsung’s refinement of an already-decent smartwatch
  • When is it out? Announced August 31, released in the latter half of 2016
  • What will it cost? US$250 (about £189, AU$330) depending on the model

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Samsung Gear S3 release date and price

Samsung has used its IFA press conference to talk up the new watches – sadly there’s no release date nor price available yet.

We’re expecting them to emerge by the end of September, but in terms of price the Gear S3 duo would do well to stay at its current entry price of US$299. Of course, we’d love to see a lower price, but that’s probably not on the cards.

Gear S3

Like the Gear S2, the Gear S3 has emerged in two different models, and if the same pattern is followed then the Classic will cost US$50 more than that standard model, but offering a more elegant steel build and leather band.

Samsung Gear S3 design and performance

Samsung claims it has spent a lot of time studying watches – both of the smart and classic variety – to come up with the ultimate wearable, and it has produced two distinct models: the Gear S3 Frontier and the Gear S3 Classic.

The Samsung Gear S3 Frontier is aimed at more active wearers, with a rugged design and built-in LTE mobile network connectivity and GPS, which allows it to continue functioning as a smartwatch even when it’s not connected to a smartphone.

Meanwhile, the Gear S3 Classic aims for a more iconic appearance, with a size and weight (which is lighter than the Gear S3 Frontier) that aims to replicate the balance found in hand-crafted luxury watches.

The GEar S3 Frontier

Apart from the design, LTE support of the S3 Frontier, and weight, both versions of the Gear S3 are evenly matched in the spec stakes, with a dual core 1.0GHz processor, 4GB internal memory, 380mAh battery and 768MG RAM.

Both smartwatches run the Tizen operating system and are compatible with Android devices running Android 4.4 or later. The two variants of the Samsung Gear S3 will also be highly customizable with support for swappable 22mm straps and interchangeable digital watch faces.

Samsung Gear S3 features

Both Samsung Gear S3 models come with support for IP68 water resistance and mobile payments through Samsung Pay. The Samsung Gear S3’s 1.3-inch circular Super AMOLED always-on display has a resolution of 360 x 360 and a pixel density of 278ppi (pixels per inch), and it’s protected by extra-tough Corning Gorilla Glass SR+, which is a first for a Samsung Gear wearable.

By having an always-on display, wearers will be able to quickly glance at the watch to tell the time, like a classic timepiece, rather than having to wait for the screen to turn on, as with other smartwatches.

There’s also the same Samsung Pay support that’s found in the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge models (as well as the recent Note 7) – which means you can pay using any terminal with an NFC or magnetic stripe payment section using the watch.

Gear S3

The Gear S3 Frontier also features an SOS mode that allows users to activate location tracking to alert families, friends and emergency services if the wearer encounters any problems, even when they don’t have their smartphone on them.

The Gear S3 battery life looks to be massively extended too: where most Android wear watches are promising a couple of days’ use before conking out, the two new Samsung watches are tipped for four days’ use between charges.

This is down to a pretty large 380mAh battery as well as a much more efficient platform in Samsung’s proprietary Tizen operating system (AKA the Tizen Based Wearable Platform 2.3.2).

GPS and a barometric altimeter are big additions to the mix here: with this on board you’ll be able to take these watches out for a run, learn how high you’ve gone, track your distance and listen to music too. If you’re using the Frontier, you’ll even be able to get phone calls without needing to staple your phone to your arm or stomach.

And finally: let’s not forget that these watches are IP68 water- and dust-resistant rated, which means they can thrive under one meter of water for 30 minutes – just like the S7 pair.

We’ll be updating this hub with information as we get it – stay tuned folks!

What we want to see

As complete of a device the Samsung Gear S2 is out of the box, there are certainly a few tricks that we’d love to have seen. So, instead of complaining about it, we’re looking to the future.

1. Built-in GPS

The more expensive 3G/4G model of the Samsung Gear S2 contains built-in GPS, which is an awesome feature that benefits joggers, walkers, and those who just want to know where they’re going block-by-block.

We’d love to see this feature trickle down to the basic edition of the Gear S3, which would put it above several smartwatches that lack it. Frustratingly, there are several devices that do have it, like the Sony Smartwatch 3, Moto 360 Sport, and most recently, even Samsung’s own Gear Fit 2. So, why not the Gear S3?

2. Android Wear 2.0 edition

In our exclusive video showing off the Samsung Galaxy S8 of our dreams, we bet that Samsung will release a stock Android option. It seems crazy, we know, but crazy enough to (hopefully) be true. Not that TouchWiz is all bad–it’s gotten much better in recent years–but stock Android is pure, clutter-free bliss.

Samsung Gear S2

While the same can’t be said about Google’s wearable platform, it’d nevertheless be a gutsy move by Samsung to introduce an Android Wear 2.0-ready version of the Gear S3.

The Gear S2’s Tizen OS is slick, refined, and in some ways, better than Android Wear. Even so, some smartwatch users might count Samsung out of their purchase decision by not adopting it, despite it being cross-platform.

3. iOS compatibility

One feature that Android Wear has up on Tizen, at least on a limited level, is iOS compatibility. Certain models, like the Moto 360 2015, Huawei Watch, LG Watch Urbane, Fossil Q Founder and a few others, can work on both Android and iOS.

Sure, iOS functionality with an Android Wear device is nothing to get too excited about, but giving iOS users more options to choose from than just the Apple Watch is a plus.

We’d love to see Samsung open its doors on the next wearable to work with iPhones. Samsung and Apple have a pretty bitter rivalry, so this might be wishful thinking, but it seems like an oddly good fit.

4. More bands to choose from

The bands of the Samsung Gear S2 can be switched out rather easily for any band that will fit its sizing. The only downside to this is that, other than its leather bands, Samsung doesn’t offer any other bands of its own to trick the device out with.

Samsung Gear S2

Compare that to Apple expansive selection of bands to choose from, as well as Google’s eclectic Android Wear Mode band collection, and Samsung’s efforts so far seem utterly basic.

A small of a factor it might seem, being able to customize the bands of a smartwatch really makes it feel like your own.

5. A faster processor

As noted in the performance section, the Gear S2 and Samsung Gear Fit 2 share the same processor. Not that it’s particularly bad, but if the Gear S3 is the step-up in design, build quality and features that we hope it is, it should have an impressive chipset to add onto that.

It’s especially important considering that the Apple Watch 2 is incoming and Android Wear is set to upgrade its chipset standard to Snapdragon Wear 2100, which will yield much slimmer devices in the near future.


Source: TechRadar

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Editor's pick: Beat procrastination with free website blocker Cold Turkey

Uncategorized August 31, 2016

Editor's pick: Beat procrastination with free website blocker Cold Turkey

Beat procrastination with Cold Turkey

Beat procrastination with Cold Turkey

Tabbed browsers are both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you can keep multiple sources open simultaneously for cross-referencing, and on the other, you can easily keep your social media feeds alongside your work, with numbers in the tab titles steadily climbing as fresh content appears in your feed.

Download Cold Turkey freeIt’s the same with emails; if you’re honest with yourself, how many of the messages you receive throughout the day truly require an immediate response? And how often do you check your inbox?

When you have to knuckle down to some serious work, it can take real grit to resist the lure of those little numbers. That’s when you need Cold Turkey – a superb free app for Windows that acts as a high-dose willpower supplement.

Cold Turkey default block list

Cold Turkey is the most effective distraction-blocker around, working as a firewall to deny access to specific websites in all browsers. It comes equipped with a preset list of notorious time-thieves, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and BuzzFeed, which you can customize with your personal procrastination destinations. Cold Turkey also lets you create new blocklists, which can be activated individually.

To start blocking, just select ‘Timer’, enter a time and date for the block to end, and switch it on. Forking out US$19 (about £15, AU$25) for the premium edition lets you block sites on a schedule and add break periods, but the free version of Cold Turkey (as its name implies) is a cruel all-or-nothing affair.

Cold Turkey uninstall blocked

Once you’ve set the blocker, it’s very hard to get around it. You can’t uninstall Cold Turkey when you’ve frozen yourself out, or sidestep it using desktop clients or Windows apps.

Download Cold Turkey freeThe only way we’ve found to thaw the Turkey is to access the forbidden sites via a proxy server – but forget we told you that. Provided you can find the self-discipline to avoid pretending you’re accessing Facebook from Greenland, you won’t find a more effective procrastination-blocker.


Source: TechRadar

96 total views, 0 today

Dropbox employee’s password reuse led to theft of 60M+ user credentials

Uncategorized August 31, 2016

Adobe_Dropbox_iPad (3) Dropbox disclosed earlier this week that a large chunk of its users’ credentials obtained in 2012 was floating around on the dark web. But that number may have been much higher than we originally thought.
Credentials for more than 60 million accounts were taken, as first reported by Motherboard and confirmed by TechCrunch sources. The revelation of a password breach at Dropbox is an… Read More


Source: TechCrunch

109 total views, 0 today

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