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I'm a huge advocate of Google Now and use it on the daily, but the great Google Now style voice search has just reached the latest Chrome stable build for the desktop - version 27.0.1453.93 to be exact.
It's not perfect yet, but it is working as a basic voice search and response service right now. If you want to try it out, make sure that your Chrome build is the latest updated version, if not - click the Help button. From there, give it a few seconds to check your version, and let it restart. When you're back in Chrome, check out http://www.Google.com and then click the microphone you'll see in the search box.
Chrome will ask you for some permission to listen to your voice, and from there you can blast Google for answers.
Spotify have started publishing a top 50 list of the most streamed and most shares music through their streaming service. The top 50 lists are being made available as widgets for website owners, who can embed them on their websites.
Best of all, music lovers can listen to the top 50 tracks for free, without having to sign in or even register for Spotify. Why are Spotify doing this? Well, it would be a great way to get users to notice the service, take a look around, enjoy it and then sign up for their premium subscription. Right now, the music streaming service features over 24 million active users, but only 6 million of those are paid subscribers.
The top 50 charts should update automatically every Monday at around noon EST, with charts from previous weeks continuing to be made available for review, but it's not clear if users will be able to stream from them.
Futuremark announced the next version of the PCMark benchmarking software this morning. The new PCMark 8 has long been anticipated in the custom PC world, and Futuremark did not let us down. The new benchmark includes several long awaited features such as battery life and native application testing.
This marks the first time Futuremark has combined battery life testing with performance testing in PCMark. The new test can measure power consumption during benchmarks and estimate battery life, or testers can use the Battery Life Loop Mode to loop a test until the battery is almost dead, for more accurate results.
PCMark is known for its tests that are based on common use scenarios such as web browsing, photo editing, video chat and gaming. PCMark 8 steps this game up considerably by now featuring new testing based on productivity and creativity apps from Adobe and Microsoft.
PCMark 8 is now entering its final stages of development and is expected to release some time at the end of Q2 2013. The benchmarking software will be available in several flavors including a bare bones basic free version, as well as a fully featured Pro version intended for the serious testers who want access all of the data.
Amazon has debuted a new piece of desktop software dedicated to music. The new Cloud Player is part of Amazon's mission to bring its music service "everywhere" and is extremely focused on the music. Cloud Player already existed as a web app, but lacked some of the features that come with a dedicated desktop app.
For instance, the desktop software is capable of storing music offline, something the web app simply couldn't do. The Cloud Player app is also capable of scanning for stored music that hasn't been added to a user's locker. A Mac version is currently in the works and Amazon advises that Mac users "stay tuned."
Google's VP9 video codec is nearly complete, YouTube will use the next-generation compression technology
Come June 17, Google are looking to finish their VP9 video codec. From there, the Mountain View-based company will use their next-generation compression technology in both Chrome and YouTube. Matt Frost, senior business product manager for the WebM Project, said in a blog post:
Last week, we hosted over 100 guests at a summit meeting for VP9, the WebM Project's next-generation open video codec. We were particularly happy to welcome our friends from YouTube, who spoke about their plans to support VP9 once support lands in Chrome.
What is the WebM project? It is Google's project for freeing Web video from royalty constraints, with the WebM technology combining VP8 with the Vorbis audio codec. VP9 transmits video much more efficiently than the VP8 codec, and will be a huge milestone for Google and potential Web-video allies like Mozilla who hope to see royalty-free video compression technology spread across the Internet.
AMD announces new and improved hardware acceleration features for Adobe Photoshop CC and Premier Pro CC
AMD has announced that it has significantly improved hardware acceleration for Adobe's Photoshop Creative Cloud and Premiere Pro Creative Cloud services. The company says that the collaboration between Adobe and AMD to provide high-quality, impressive performance to creative professionals everywhere has been achieved by fully tapping into AMD compute and graphics processing leadership through cross-platform open standards like OpenCL and OpenGL.
"AMD and Adobe are working together to help provide powerful solutions that enable creative professionals to speed workflows and increase throughput, boost productivity and creativity, and fully realize their creative vision," said Neal Robison, senior director, Software Alliances at AMD. "AMD APUs and graphics coupled with Adobe Photoshop CC and Adobe Premiere Pro CC push the boundaries of what's possible and help artists of virtually all talents and disciplines make the imagined real."
At the moment, the biggest improvements can be seen in an all new "Smart Sharpen" feature and updated Blur Gallery. There is no word if the CS6 versions of Photoshop and Premiere Pro will get these updates, but I am willing to bet that they will not be seen on any version of any Creative Suite products.
Futuremark have updated their benchmarking software, 3DMark, to version 1.1.0 which includes a bunch of fixes. The biggest fix is to multi-GPU setups, which had issues with three- and four-way GPU's.
Previously, 3DMark wasn't returning the right scores to those multi-GPU setups, but Futuremark has said that while they thought it was a minor issue, it "turned out to be far more complicated and we are truly sorry that it has taken so long to fix". The updated benchmark also includes Ice Storm Extreme, which is a more intense version of Ice Storm which is designed for mobile devices.
This test now allows you to compare Ice Storm and Ice Storm Extreme scores between Android and Windows devices.
BitTorrent Sync is proving both popular and speedy. BitTorrent, the company behind the new syncing software that relies on the BitTorrent protocol, has announced that Sync has surpassed one petabyte of data synchronized between machines. This is an impressive feat considering that the software was only released publicly on April 23.
BitTorrent says that each day Sync sees over 70 terabytes of data. To put some of these numbers on context, BitTorrent says that the Internet Archive houses around 10 petabytes of data. This means Sync should surpass the Internet Archive in less than a year, provided the sync rate stays the same. However, it's likely the rate will increase as more people adopt the software..
In most ways, Sync is just like Dropbox except for the lack of central storage. However, one could easily set up Sync with a central repository on a remote server and basically have a Dropbox clone. Sync is turning into a great tool and I can't wait to see where it goes when it becomes a stable release.
Google has updated their Google Drive app to allow sharing directly from the Google Drive folder. To share a file currently in your Google Drive folder, all you have to do is right click on the file, go down to Google Drive, and select "Share...". It really couldn't get much simpler than that.
The update is available in both the Windows and Mac versions of the software and will be coming to a desktop system near you in the coming days as it rolls out. Of course, if you aren't already using Google Drive's desktop app, you can download the nifty syncing software directly from Google (source link #2)
Adobe to move entire Creative Suite to subscription based service, will ditch retail sales and further CS Suite updates
Adobe has announced that it will be moving its Creative Suite of products from a retail business model, and into a cloud based subscription model that will let users subscribe to the service for a monthly fee and will completely do away with retail packaging, downloads and apparently Creative Suite altogether.
Adobe has decided to rebrand the new subscription service as the Adobe Creative Cloud and will still feature all of the same programs professionals have grown to love. This will also end the yearly release cycle for program updates, and subscribers will simply get the updates as they come out.
If you want my personal opinion on this, I feel that Adobe is making a major mistake here and the push to the cloud is being fueled by one thing and one thing only, piracy. With a cloud based service, Adobe can keep a more firm hold on its programs and prevent pirates from downloading and installing the program illegally.