iTunes is now featuring an edge-to-edge design. Clicking on albums results in an expansion like folders on iOS. Inside that album is a feature called 'in the store' which shows top songs and albums.
Artists can now share photos through iTunes. Currently playing now shows what's coming next, a cool feature, albeit a bit unneeded.
Valve's first real big push into gamers' lounge rooms is with "Big Picture" mode, which makes Steam much more TV and controller friendly. Valve are known to not really agree, or like the state of PC hardware and console technology, where they've even been rumored to be working on their own console, Steam Box.
Big Picture is looking to compete on the TV with consoles, with Valve's attempt to make their Steam UI look great on the big screen. Big Picture is designed for your PC to be connected to your TV, you can still use the new mode with your keyboard and mouse. At the moment, Big Picture mode is only available on the PC version of Steam, with the Mac-based version coming soon. In order to enable Big Picture mode, you'll have to go into Settings:
Google Chrome has enjoyed its fourth birthday, and to celebrate, Google have released an interactive timeline of Chrome development that lets users scroll back, and forward through Chrome's history.
Google have also pushed out an updated version of Chrome for iOS that includes some bug fixes. This includes an issue found with Yahoo Mail, blank "Most Visited" pages, and other improvements based on user feedback to the crew at Google.
The timeline shown by Google allows a user to control the flow of the timeline itself, including clickable pads of stories and other developments spanning the four year-history of Chrome.
Adobe have finally addressed the public over their plans for Retina display support on their software, where they've announced that a Retina-compatible version of Photoshop CS6 will be made available "this Fall". Lightroom 4 with Retina support will be available "as soon as the work is complete". Adobe add:
Supporting this new technology requires significant work by our product teams and we're committed to provided a free update to all Photoshop CS6 customers this Fall and Lightroom 4 as soon as the work is complete. Please note that Creative Cloud members will receive Photoshop updates more frequently and receive this update in advance of updates for non-members.
A second blog post from Adobe has also announced that there are many more products in their range to get Retina support, where they'll be free to all CS6 and Creative Cloud customers:
- Edge Animate
- Photoshop Touch
- Adobe Premiere Pro
If you're a fan of Mozilla's mail software, Thunderbird, then you might want to update to the latest version that has just been released. Mozilla have pushed out Thunderbird 15, and with it, includes a refreshed visual dash of paint.
Mozilla wants to share the look between their apps, meaning that Thunderbird now sports a more Firefox-like UI, which is a good thing. Thunderbird 15 also includes live chat, where you can skip waiting for that next e-mail, a Do Not Track option for web searches, and finally, the choice of using Ubuntu One cloud storage for large attachments.
If you want to get in on the Thunderbird 15 action, download it here.
NVIDIA have pushed out another set of drivers, with the GeForce 306.02 WHQL-certified drivers now available. GeForce 306.02 supports operating systems from Windows XP right up to Windows 8, including the usual bug fixes, updated profiles and added support.
Depending on the combination of hardware and software in your system, you should expect a few improvements if you're making the jump from the 301.24 beta, but if you're rocking the R304 family drivers, the improvements shouldn't be as large. GeForce GTX 680 and GTX 580 users will get the following improvements from the 301.24 beta:
GeForce GTX 680:
- Up to 18% in Batman: Arkham City
- Up to 15% in Dragon Age II
- Up to 10% in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
- Up to 60% in Total War: Shogun 2 (fixes performance issue with latest game patch)
GeForce GTX 560:
- Up to 14% in Batman: Arkham City
- Up to 5% in Battlefield 3 with SLI
- Up to 4% in Dragon Age II
- Up to 8% in The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings with SLI
- Up to 7% in Lost Planet 2
Samsung unveiled three new Windows 8, all-in-one PCs earlier today, and included is a widget called S Launcher. Why is this news? Well, Samsung doesn't want to confuse people with Windows 8's lack of a Start Menu, so they've pushed out S Launcher, which looks virtually identical to the Start Menu of Windows 7.
S Launcher is a simple widget that looks, and acts, just like the Start Menu we've all come to love over the last decade-plus. It's as simple as clicking the widget, start typing a word, and whatever word you type, it will show you the settings, and apps that relate to the item you've just searched for. There's also a separate settings icon which provides quick access to the most commonly used controls.
Samsung's S Launcher also allows you to drag and drop files for easy access and throwing them away when you don't need them anymore. The settings icon does come in handy, as Microsoft have shifted around a lot of the computer settings to places you're usually used to in Windows 7. This means that Samsung's S Launcher can save you time when trying to find something such as power management, control panel, and more, now found all in one easy-to-use spot.
Our Download of the Day is Piriform's CCleaner, which has reached version 3.22. With it, brings a bunch of changes, most notably, full support for Windows 8:
- Added full support for Windows 8.
- Improved Startup Item tool compatibility.
- Improved benchmarking for Cleaner summary results.
- Improved support for Custom Files and Folders.
- Improved file security algorithms.
- Added option to Exclude a single registry value.
- Improved wildcard support in search boxes.
- Fixed support for Windows 2000.
- Minor GUI improvements.
- Minor bug fixes.
You can download CCleaner 3.22, here.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, music streaming service, Spotify, looks to be launching in Canada shortly, with a hint of an expansion into "countries in Asia and South America", too. The news comes from Spotify's annual accounts that were published this week.
A Spotify spokesperson talked to The Wall Street Journal, bu refused to discuss the Canadian launch plans, saying that Spotify "plans to launch in new countries". Spotify's tentacles only recently reached Australia and New Zealand back in May, and the latest news from the company was the unlimited free radio on Android for users based in the US.
Spotify now sports over 15 million active users, with 4 million being paid subscribers, myself included. Once Spotify begins launching in other countries, these numbers should only increase.
A surprise Download of the Day post, as AIDA64 has reached version 2.60.
New features & improvements
- VIA VX11 platform, Nano X2 and QuadCore CPU support
- Optimized 64-bit benchmarks for AMD A-Series "Trinity" APU
- Microsoft Windows 8 RTM and Windows Server 2012 RTM support
- OpenGL 4.3, APP SDK 2.7, CUDA 5.0 support
- GPU details for nVIDIA GeForce GTX 650, 660 Series
The Motion Pictures Expert Group (MPEG) has released a new draft which should see the release of a new video codec, H.265. The proposed High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) looks to save on space by up to 50% of the current MPEG-4 H.264 standard, with its aim of reducing the amount of bandwidth used by online video applications, making room for more.
A group of 450 people met in Stockholm during July in order to approve the new codec, which if adopted, would see double the amount of TV channels broadcast, all in the same amount of spectrum. Per Fröjdh, chairman of the Swedish MPEG delegation and manager for Visual Technology at Ericsson Research has said it will "have an enormous impact on the industry", and rightly so. He also notes that it is currently predicted that video could account for "90 percent of all network traffic" by 2015.
Fröjdh also believes that the new HEVC format could see a launch in the commercial product space as soon as next year. Apple would hopefully be an early adopter in H.265, as they were in H.264. Nokia and Microsoft also recommend H.264 as an alternative to plugins for video in the HTML5 specification. We should hear more about H.265 over the coming months.
AMD have just released a tasty version of their Catalyst drivers, version 12.8. The biggest gem in this driver is most likely going to be the Windows 8 support, which includes AMD's first logo certified and unified driver for Windows 8 production. This includes:
- AMD's first official unified and logo certified driver for Windows 8, Windows 7 and Windows Vista
- Target-Independent Rasterization (TIR): TIR is a new rendering path that enables superior anti-aliasing in Direct3D driver applications
- Native Stereo 3D Support: Windows 8 natively supports stereoscopic 3D gaming and videos via compatible applications
- Unified Video API: Video playback has been integrated into the DirectX® 11 API, enabling simultaneous video and gaming content. Transcoding performance may also be improved for supporting applications.
- Optimized screen rotation for rotation aware devices
- Improved sleep/resume performance
- Optimized GPU power consumption
Major technologies / features also supported under Windows 8:
- AMD Eyefinity technology
- Unified Video Decoder (UVD)
- AMD Dual Graphics
- AMD CrossFire technology
- AMD Overdrive
- AMD Catalyst Control Center
- Vision Engine Control Center
Google Chrome has a new extension available for download. This extension is produced and released by none other than Amazon and allows web content to be sent to any device that has the Kindle app installed. A one-click process, the extension allows blog posts, stories, and such directly to your favorite e-reader device.
Furthermore, by tapping into Amazon's Whispersync technology, users can easily start reading the content on one e-reader and seamlessly pick up where they left off on another device. The extension, "Send to Kindle for Google Chrome," allows users to send the entire webpage or just selected text to the device.
To get the extension for yourself, head on over to Amazon's Send To Kindle download page. Confirm the download on the Google Chrome Web store and sign in with your Amazon account. When you click the button, the content is formatted for the Kindle and then sent to your device a few minutes later. Amazon has said FireFox and Safari will get support "soon" but there was no mention of Internet Explorer.
It looks as though the MegaUpload problems aren't stopping founder Kim Dotcom from getting right back into work, with the biggest hint that his new music program has not been delayed and will arrived later this year. The new hint comes from a tweet from the man himself, and is talking about Megabox.
I'm sure you've heard of it, but if you haven't, Megabox will be a music service that allows artists to sell music directly to its users. The last time Dotcom talked of Megabox was back in June, where he told Torrent Freak that:
You can expect several Megabox announcements [in 2012] including exclusive deals with artists who are eager to depart from outdated business models.
uTorrent user? You'll soon be eye balling ads, as the creators of the torrent program have announced that the upcoming version of the popular torrent software will sport "in-client offers". In-client offers is just some fancy translation of ads.
uTorrent Plus users won't have to experience the ads, but you'll be coughing up USD $24.95 for the privilege. Considering that uTorrent features over 125 million active users each month, it shouldn't come as a surprise. uTorrent's parent company, BitTorrent Inc., has made some nice spare money from their optional tool bar, seeing between $15 to $20 million from the tool bar alone. The ad-supported client should make the wallets of uTorrent that little bit bigger.
TechPowerUp has updated GPU-Z to version 0.6.4 and with it brought some interesting changes. According to TechPowerUp, "version 0.6.4 adds/refines support for several upcoming NVIDIA GPUs, such as GeForce GTX 660 Ti, GeForce GTX 660, GeForce GTX/S 650, GeForce 610, and GeForce GTX 680M; Intel GMA 3600 (ROP count); AMD "Trinity" APUs (clock reading accuracy) and AMD FirePro 2270."
Usually software like this is updated shortly before the release of a new product, such as the NVIDIA GTX 660 Ti, rumored to be launching soon. Support for the NVIDIA 650 also shows that the September launch period is likely an accurate rumor. TechPowerUp also instituted several other changes in the newest version:
- Changed sort order of devices to put devices with connected monitor first
- Fixed memory size reading for NVIDIA cards with 4 GB or more
- Fixed AMD Trinity Fusion clock readings
- Added support for NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti, GTX 660, GTX 650, GT 610, GTX 680M
- Added support for AMD FirePro 2270
- Fixed ROP and TMU count for Intel GMA 3600
- Changed sensor label from "VReg Temperature" to "VRM Temperature"
- Fix for sensors displaying Fahrenheit not being saved properly
- Added VRM temperature monitoring for CHL8228 based cards
- Fix for various crashes
Gigabyte launches USB blocker software for 7 series motherboards, disables certain types of devices from connecting
Are you the owner of a 7 series Gigabyte motherboard? Tired of all those hackers plugging flash drives into your computer and giving you viruses? If so, Gigabyte has the download for you! Today, Gigabyte has announced a new piece of software which will disable certain types of USB devices from connecting to the computer.
The software features an easy-to-use GUI that allows you to select what can and cannot be seen by the operating system when physically connected. The software will currently run on Intel Z77, H77, B75 and H61 based motherboards produced by Gigabyte. Gigabyte has provided some excellent use-case scenarios:
For example, in a small office were data theft could be a worry, you can block each PCs access to storage devices, making it much harder for anyone to walk out the door with your data. In schools, joysticks and game pads can be blocked, while public PCs in hotels, cafe's, dormitories, libraries and such, can avoid the risk of viruses and malware by blocking pen drives and other storage media, while still allowing USB connected keyboard and mice to be used.
The software is available immediately for download from Gigabyte's website. Try it out and let us know what you think of it in the comments. But, it's free, so you have to limit your complaining if don't like it!
Valve, the company behind Steam, is keeping itself busy. Gabe Newell has publicly bashed Windows 8 and is working towards making Linux into a viable alternative for gamers. Valve is working on porting the Steam client and Left 4 Dead 2 to Linux and has achieved some great results. Now, Steam will be expanding into software other than games.
Starting September 5, software will begin to show up in the Steam store. Options will include creativity and productivity software and a majority will feature Steamworks integration. "Many of the launch titles will take advantage of popular Steamworks features, such as easy installation, automatic updating, and the ability to save your work to your personal Steam Cloud space so your files may travel with you."
Furthermore, Indie developers will be able to submit their software through Steam Greenlight. Steam has some competition in this market as Mac already has its own store and Windows 8 will be coming with a Windows store. "The 40 million gamers frequenting Steam are interested in more than playing games," said Mark Richardson at Valve. "They have told us they would like to have more of their software on Steam, so this expansion is in response to those customer requests."
It's about time one of the big manufacturers jumped into making benchmark software for Android phones and tablets, and with today's announcement, that's just what Futuremark has done. Futuremark has joined forces with hardware manufacturers Acer, Intel, Qualcomm, and SingTel-Optus in order to produce the best, most accurate benchmark possible for Android.
Jukka Mäkinen, Futuremark CEO said, "For more than ten years we have worked with the world's leading PC hardware manufacturers to create 3DMark and PCMark. As a result, Futuremark benchmarks are the industry standard for PC performance measurement used by hundreds of press publications and millions of end-users. As we bring 3DMark to Android, we are excited to expand our cooperation to include Acer, Intel, Qualcomm and SingTel-Optus, technology leaders who will bring unparalleled insight, experience and vision to the development of 3DMark for Android."
We will see the new benchmark later this year. It's certainly something that is craved by reviewers and journalists around the web. Even better, the results will be able to be directly compared to those of the new Windows version also coming out later this year. Here's what some of Futuremark's partners have to say about the new benchmark:
Microsoft have just posted some newer system requirements for their upcoming productivity suite, Office 2013. It seems that the company are cutting support for older versions of Windows, with Windows Vista and XP both not being compatible with Office 2013.
Office 2013 will only be compatible with Windows 7, 8, 2008 R2 Server and 2012 Server. In one way, I can understand that they are cutting Windows XP's support, as the OS is both old, and about to get cut from updates on Microsoft's side, but Vista? Then again, Vista reached its end-of-life milestone in April, so its not that surprising to be honest.
Microsoft unveiled the new Office yesterday, and also announced that all tablet or hybrid devices that feature Windows RT will receive a copy of the new Office 2013 (Word, Excel, Power Point and OneNote) for free.
This is a great deal, and should secure Microsoft millions upon millions of sales of new hardware. It helps those who were, or are hesitant of upgrading, and scared that the new tablets won't run legacy programs written for Intel's x86 platform.
Microsoft's move to offer Office 2013 for free on all Windows RT-based devices is just a very slick move. We haven't seen anything like this from the company before, and I'm pretty sure none of the competition (I'm looking at you Apple, and Google) offer full-fledged productivity suites, for free, on their devices.