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Fractal Design has launched a new website and corresponding mobile app that is unlike any other hardware manufacturer's website that I have seen. The new website is clean and minimalistic, which obviously reflects the company's design ethics. The front page features a large slider that is very informative and quite pleasing to the eye, but the refresh really shines when you download the company's app for Android or iOS.
The app is laid out in such a way that users can quickly find information on the product of their choosing, while at the same time managing to provide a rich and minimal user interface. Things really take a turn towards awesome when you check out the Augmented Reality features that the app offerers. By simply downloading and printing out a "trigger"--a small image that helps the app place the AR image--users can use the app to visualize what a particular Fractal Design product may look like in their home, office, or anywhere the trigger is placed.
Until today, I have not put much stock into Augmented Reality, but the concept that Fractal Design has implemented here really gets me excited. I can see this technology being used for all sorts of things such as when buying wheels for your vehicle or even when shopping for a new water cooling system for your PC. This is definitely the future and I hope that we see more tech companies using this in their apps in the future.
A few weeks from the launch of its next iteration of its flagship OS, Microsoft has increased the number of Windows 8 and 8.1 devices that users can install Windows Store apps from 5 to 81 devices.
Microsoft's new app-roaming limit begins on October 9, and will involve all Windows Store/Metro Style apps that are associated with a single Microsoft account. The news comes directly from a new Microsoft "Windows App Builder" blog which was posted on September 27. The blog post reads: "Developers that decide to have the app enforce a constraint around the number of devices must disclose that constraint to Windows Store customers and set expectations appropriately."
Increasing it to 81 is a nice touch with Windows 8.1 coming in just a few weeks time.
One thing that could make Microsoft's life much easier would be to have one, single apps tore. Well, according to unnamed sources of The Verge, the Redmond-based giant has been working on a single app store for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps.
This new app store would create a common platform for developers to sell their software. The company is hoping to launch the store with the release of Windows 8.1 on October 22 next month, and would have a special update to Windows 8.1 in the first half of next year. The Verge has said that "it's possible that Microsoft may take an approach that's similar to Apple's App Store, where tablet specific apps don't run on the phone, but phone apps scale to run on a tablet."
One of my most used apps would have to be Ookla's Speedtest.net application, which has finally been updated and includes a radically refreshed, modern user interface.
The new interface is nothing new to iOS users, but those of us on Android have been waiting for what feels like forever for the UI refresh. The updated application also performs better, with improved network accuracy and a few new features. The speed results can be more easily shared from the first page, as well as a deeper look into your results, where you can even see a point on the map where each speed test was performed.
Social networking giant, Facebook, finally updated its Android application, which now lets you edit your posts. This is a feature that has been asked about for ages now, and we finally have it.
The post-editing feature has been available in the Facebook for Android beta, but now it has stepped over to the official, non-beta application. You can download Facebook for Android here from the Google Play Store, if your device hasn't already automatically updated it for you.
Apple's Maps app has been plagued with issues since its release, and has often been unfairly compared to Google Maps, which has a development head start of over a decade. Unfortunately, many of the errors Apple Maps has been experiencing are quite fundamental and not simply a misnamed road or missing imagery.
A recent error has popped up that involves the Fairbanks International Airport located in Fairbanks, Alaska. The airport has reported several incidents where iPhone users were using Apple Maps to navigate around the airport and wound up driving on a taxiway and then across an active runway.
"We asked them to disable the map for Fairbanks until they could correct it, thinking it would be better to have nothing show up than to take the chance that one more person would do this," said Melissa Osborn, chief of operations at the airport.
The airport has asked Apple to disable navigation leading to the airport until it has been fixed, and has even had to take the extreme measures of erecting barricades that prevent people from driving onto the runway. Apple said that the problem will be fixed by Wednesday. Just for fun, when you navigate to the airport using Google Maps, you are directed around the airport and to the correct driveway.
iMessage Chat for Android has arrived, but is it as good as what it sounds like? Well, yes and no. iMessage Chat allows Android users to chat between Android and iOS devices, but there should be caution used.
9to5Mac reports that iMessage Chat is definitely not an Apple app - which should be obvious - and was created by a third-party developed named Daniel Zweigart. iMessage Chat disguises the Android device you're using as a Mac mini, after which it pushes your messages to the Apple iMessage server. This means you'll require an Apple ID to gain access, but this isn't where the problems stop.
The creator of Cydia, Jay Freeman, noticed that iMessage Chat redirects to a server in China, before it forwards the information to Apple. This means that the server acts like a middle man, where it handles the transferring and processing of information between your smartphone and the iMessage server. The scary thing is, we don't know what the Chinese server is doing with your information - where it could be, and probably is storing your Apple IDs and chat logs.
On top of BlackBerry having serious issues, and diving out of the consumer market and letting 4,500 people go, its BBM rollout for Android and iOS has now been put on hold. The Canadian phone maker has said that leaked versions people were using were having "issues" and that they are hard at work to getting it released.
Prior to launching BBM for Android, an unreleased version of the BBM for Android app was posted online. The interest and enthusiasm we have seen already - more than 1.1 million active users in the first 8 hours without even launching the official Android app - is incredible. Consequently, this unreleased version caused issues, which we have attempted to address throughout the day.
Our teams continue to work around the clock to bring BBM to Android and iPhone, but only when it's ready and we know it will live up to your expectations of BBM. We are pausing the global roll-out of BBM for Android and iPhone. Customers who have already downloaded BBM for iPhone will be able to continue to use BBM. The unreleased Android app will be disabled, and customers who downloaded it should visit http://www.BBM.com to register for updates on official BBM for Android availability.
As soon as we are able, we will begin a staggered country roll-out of BBM for Android and continue the roll-out of BBM for iPhone. Please follow @BBM on Twitter for the latest updates and go to http://www.BBM.com to sign-up for updates about BBM for Android and iPhone. These issues have not impacted BBM service for BlackBerry.
How many apps do you have installed on your smartphone, tablet, and other Internet-connected devices? Well, add those up and times them by many hundred million and you'll be at a number so big it'll make your head spin.
According to research company Gartner, over 102 billion apps will be downloaded from mobile app stores this year alone, a number that has risen 40% from 2012. Total revenue from app downloads is expected to bust through $26 billion, which is up $8 billion from the $16 billion total of last year. Gartner's projections show that continuous growth is to happen until 2017, with the slow down taking place next year.
Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner, said: "We expect strong growth in downloads through 2014, but growth is forecast to slow down a bit in later years. The average downloads per device should be high in early years as users get new devices and discover the apps they like. Over time they accumulate a portfolio of apps they like and stick to, so there will be moderate numbers of downloads in the later years."
Google acquired Quickoffice back in 2012, and has since been hammering away at the application over at Mountain View. The search giant has just announced that Quickoffice is now free for everyone on iOS and Android.
Quickoffice is optimized for both smartphones and tablets, allowing you to edit and view Microsoft Office documents that are stored on your device without compromising the format. The latest version of Quickoffice allows you to work on documents that have been saved to your Google Drive account as well, which is a huge help for anyone (like myself) who works with Microsoft Office documents, but stores them on their Drive account.
Google has done one better, offering 10GB of extra Google Drive storage for two years if you download Quickoffice from the Google Play Store before September 26 and link it up to your Google account. You know what? I'm going to do that right now - thanks, Google.