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Chris Weber interview: The future of device branding for Windows Phone

Chris Weber Microsoft Nokia

Chris Weber is the CVP of Mobile Devices Sales at Microsoft, re-joining the company through it's purchase of Nokia, where he was in charge of global sales. He knows his way around every Lumia device, and is now aiming to make sure that Windows Phone first-party hardware is an even player at the devices table. We were able to sit down with Chris to talk about Nokia, Lumia, Windows Phone, and what changes need to be made in order to realize the success he is seeking. Check out the full interview below:

When is Windows Phone 8.1 coming out?
The answer varies by device and operator. The Lumia 630 and 635 are the first 8.1 products, launched internationally. We’re also working with our current products, and any Windows 8 phone is upgradeable to 8.1. There is currently a developer preview, but the operator version requires further testing. 8.1 is a completely different experience. Things like the background wallpaper, increased customization, and especially Cortana, which is one of the best features.

There are key differences between Cortana and similar services on other devices. It proactively learns. The other day I was flying to Moscow. The week before, it asked if it wanted me to track my flight to Moscow. There is a link that says "Do you want to know how I knew that?" Cortana looked at my calendar and started looking up flight numbers. It also has geo-fencing. You can say "Remind me that Ignacio owes me $100." I can say remind me when I send an email, when I arrive home, etc. Or "Remind me to pick up my dry cleaning" and when you get in the area, the message pops up. "Remind me to pick up milk at the grocery store” and you get the choice of having it remind you when you are near any grocery store, not just one specific one.

Back to being on the plane, I said "Remind me to download the music for guitar when I get home." It's really, really good. Flow writing, which is similar to Swype, means I can do emails faster on my phone than on the keyboard now. I got a new phone and it wasn't running 8.1 and the hunt and peck was tough!

Click to continue reading Chris Weber interview: The future of device branding for Windows Phone


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Exclusive: I used Microsoft’s Surface watch

Microsoft Surface Smart Watch

Yes, it’s true—Microsoft is about to get into the smartwatch game, and I got the opportunity to play with it. As we'd previously reported, Microsoft has filed a patent that details a smartwatch. However, often these patent filings aren’t exactly what we see companies end up releasing. So, let’s separate the cruft and get to the meat of the matter. A number of months ago I took a trip to New York where I came across someone who was testing the upcoming Microsoft wearable device. I saw it on their wrist and asked about it. They tried to explain that it was a random fitness wristband ordered from China at first, but eventually (with some prodding) gave me the scoop. Here is your exclusive first look at what Microsoft is planning for its first wearable smart device, what we are referring to as the Surface Watch:

  • As far as looks, the image above is a parody, but not far off. It has an elongated form factor, but isn't as comically large as what's in the image. It is much more akin to something like the Fitbit One or Samsung Galaxy Gear Fit in shape rather than taking on the shape of a traditional watch, like Pebble did, or like what Google showed off with Android Wear. What we saw had a flat display, while the inner portion that would rest against your skin was curved.
  • The icons are the flat style that Microsoft has been using on its other devices like Windows 8, Windows Phone, and Xbox One. That's what tipped me off in the first place.
  • Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy is how it interacts with the rest of the world
  • The flat glass display, and was definitely not high resolution. We hope that both of these change in the final product--a high-resolution curved display already exists on the Samsung Gear Fit, and the Microsoft device just didn't look as good.
  • The watch is packed with sensors. It has a heart rate monitor, accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS, and most interestingly, a galvanic skin response sensor all built-in. The galvanic skin response sensor is built into the watch band, while everything else is built into the unit itself.

Click to continue reading Exclusive: I used Microsoft’s Surface watch


OS X Yosemite: Translucent window UI, dark mode, new icons, and more

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Apple, PC / Laptop, Software

OS X Yosemite WWDC

Apple has just announced OS X . As featured in a leak earlier today, the new operating system takes a bunch of design cues from iOS to bring visual parity between the two Apple operating systems. Apple's Craig Federighi showed off all of the new features, followed by a demo.

Tentpole features in the redesign include new, flat icons that are reminiscent of the iOS 7 redesign.  An optional dark mode changes the menu bar from white to black, which allows you to get rid of the striking white for those who don't want it. Apple has also brought in a bunch of transparency and translucency, with the frosted glass look throughout the UI.

Developing...


Purported leaked images of OS X 10.10 leak new UI and design changes

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Apple, PC / Laptop, Software

OS X 10.10 leak

On the eve of the WWDC 2014 keynote, it seems that a few screenshots of OS X 10.10 (which we're guessing will be called Yosemite or El Capitan) have leaked, giving us a purported look at the future of Apple's desktop operating system. Originally reported by MacRumors (and since removed by request,) we can see changes that, as expected, bring the OS X design more in line with what the iOS 7 redesign introduced. In the image above, you see a much flatter Safari start page, with a lot of white space. Additionally, there's a new Dock style, doing away with the current frosted glass shelf in favor of a more simple translucent strip behind the app icons. You may also notice that the Finder icon has been changed. Let's check out a few more of the leaked photos.

Click to continue reading Purported leaked images of OS X 10.10 leak new UI and design changes


Apple purchases Beats Electronics & Beats Music for $3 billion, Dr. Dre & Jimmy Iovine join company

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Apple, Wearables, Corporate News, Music

Apple Beats Electronics

After weeks of rumors, it's now official: Apple has announced it is purchasing Beats Electronics for the cost of $3 billion. This makes it the largest purchase in Apple's entire history, and obviously the biggest public decision made by Tim Cook since he stepped in as CEO.

"Music is such an important part of all of our lives and holds a special place within our hearts at Apple,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “That’s why we have kept investing in music and are bringing together these extraordinary teams so we can continue to create the most innovative music products and services in the world.”

“I’ve always known in my heart that Beats belonged with Apple,” said Jimmy Iovine. “The idea when we started the company was inspired by Apple’s unmatched ability to marry culture and technology. Apple’s deep commitment to music fans, artists, songwriters and the music industry is something special."

Beats Electronics is the make of the Beats by Dr. Dre line of headphones and music accessories, and also the Beats Music subscription service that competes with other offerings from companies like Rdio, Spotify, Rhapsody, and the like.

Click to continue reading Apple purchases Beats Electronics & Beats Music for $3 billion, Dr. Dre & Jimmy Iovine join company


LG G3: LG’s new flagship shines with it’s 5.5-inch Quad HD display

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Cell Phones, Displays, Handhelds

LG G3 smartphone

LG has finally announced its G3 smartphone, it's new flagship device. As previously leaked, the LG G3 features a 5.5-inch Quad HD display with a fantastic 538 ppi count thanks to the 2560 x 1440 resolution--yes, that's the same as you'd find on a 27-inch iMac display. LG was also proud to show off the 13-megapixel rear camera with OIS+ (that would be Optical Image Stabilization Plus) with Laser Auto Focus that the company says allows the camera to focus faster than any other smartphone currently on the market.

Following the trend found on the iPhone 5s and HTC One (M8), the LG G3 has a metallic housing and polished skin on back. While the phone has a 5.5-inch display, LG worked hard on making it usable with one hand. That goal is the inspiration for the Floating Arc design. The volume keys are on back (similar to the LG G Flex, actually,) and the software interface have been redesigned with a flatter appearance.

Of course, the internals have also been upgraded. You'll find a quad-core 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor on the inside, paired up with 3GB of RAM, and your choice of either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage. If that's not enough, you can expand the storage space with a microSD card up to 128GB in size. A removable 3,000mAh battery is definitely nice to see, as is 802.11ac Wi-Fi support. As for colors, you can pick up the LG G3 in red, gold, white, black, violet, and red, depending on carrier. The LG G3 goes on sale in Korea starting tomorrow.


5 big game releases to get you through the coming summer drought

Mario Kart 8

The summer months can bring drought conditions in many areas across the world, but as any hardcore gamer will tell you, the gaming industry suffers the same condition each year. It's even tougher in years like 2014, where two major consoles just launched and early adopters are clamoring for new software for their pricey investments.

While I can't do anything about the lack of new games that are set to drop this summer, I can certainly help you get through it. Over the next two months, right before summer hits, we are going to see a few high profile games released that we think will dull the summer gaming blues. Some are old favorites, while a couple are brand new IP that look to offer unique gaming experiences. Here's my list of the five games to pick up this summer, in order of release date:


Microsoft Surface Pro 3: 12” display, $799, hopes to replace your laptop

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Microsoft has officially the new Surface Pro 3 during a press event in New York City this morning, just under 7 months after releasing the Surface Pro 2. While the Surface Pro 3 may look similar at first glance, what with the kickstand and all, Surface chief Panos Panay went out of his way to make the point that this device is all about solving the problem of deciding between a laptop and a tablet. The Surface Pro 3, after all, can replace your laptop, claimed Panay.

So what makes the new model so impressive? Let's take a look at a rundown of features. First, Microsoft has increased the display size to 12-inches at a 3:2 aspect ratio and 2,160 x 1,440 resolution. That is the largest Surface display yet, with the highest density to boot. Despite being larger, it's also lighter than the Surface Pro 2 as well, weighing in at 800 grams. Panay made the point by comparing the weight of the Surface Pro 3 against the 11-inch MacBook Air, which has a smaller display without as high a screen resolution.

Click to continue reading Microsoft Surface Pro 3: 12” display, $799, hopes to replace your laptop


Microsoft slashes price of Xbox One to $399 without Kinect

Xbox One without Kinect $399

Microsoft surprised the gaming world this morning with the announcement it will sell the Xbox One without Kinect for $399 starting on June 9th in the U.S. This brings the price of the Xbox 360 in line with that of the PlayStation 4, which should bring the two consoles into even more heated competition.

An odd move (though some might say it was expected in order to compete,) since the company wouldn't stop talking about how essential Kinect is to the Xbox One functionality and gaming direction less than a year ago. I guess Microsoft has been feeling the heat if the PlayStation 4 sales, and had to adjust that strategy right quick.

You can pre-order the Xbox One without Kinect now.


Apple seeks to acquire Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion

Apple Acquires Beats Electronics

Apple is purportedly set to make its biggest acquisition in the history of the company, as The Financial Times is reporting that it is about to buy Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion. What would Apple get out of Beats Audio? Well, for starters, there's the Beats Music subscription platform, which allows customers to listen to on-demand music along with curated mood-based playlists. That would be a great complement to iTunes Radio, which doesn't allow users to put songs on repeat, and limits skip functionality. Additionally, Beats is likely most known for its iconic Beats by Dr. Dre headphone line. Apple would become owner of the audio hardware in the case of an acquisition, and could even use the Beats Audio sound profile in future iOS devices (similar to what HTC did in its phones when it was a stakeholder in Beats Audio a couple of years ago.)

Apple and Beats Electronics are both keeping silent for now, but if the deal does go through, it's large enough that an official announcement will be made by both companies.


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