Pebbles Gets Round

I have been using a smartwatch for almost two years now and after trying a couple my favorite has always been Pebble. One of the complaints of many about smartwatches is their geekness. However for me this has never really been a problem for me because… well you can probably guess why.

It now appears Pebble is trying to appeal to those who may want to tryout a smartwatch… subtly.

The latest Pebble looks different from previous models of the smartwatch. Instead of a square screen with rounded edges, it bears a circular watch face.

The Pebble Time Round also is thinner and lighter than its siblings, but it’s not as water-resistant. Also the battery does not last as long, lasting a couple of days rather than a week. That earns it a black mark for me, as long battery life is critical for an effective smartwatch in my book. My Pebble Time lasts about a week without a charge!

It does looks to be a little classier than Pebble Time and Pebble Time Steel as well as most other smartwatches. There is of course, a new set of watch faces to reflect the new design. Pebble also has a new software development kit that aims to make it easy for developers to switch their apps from square to circular displays.

The watch starts shipping in November for $249.

As I have reported here a couple of times I am already an admirer of Pebble Time but I will probably not be switching to the new Pebble Time Round however I have a feeling it will be very popular.

You can learn more about Pebble here.

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Microsoft Office 2016 Details Emerge

Microsoft Office 2016 is now available and it is bringing real-time collaboration, improved Skype integration and quick access to many options to the suite that includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

The updates are behind the scenes but they are very real nevertheless. It’s not about new icons or fancier menus with Office 2016, in many ways 2016 looks almost indistinguishable from 2013.

office2016

The updates includes a Groups feature in Outlook for a corporate team or even just a group of friends planning a trip to manage messages and documents. Word lets two people work on a document and see each other’s changes in real-time. Skype video calls can sit comfortably on top of the document during editing.

A user must learn to save files to OneDrive or Sharepoint, and switch between browser apps and the traditional desktop programs. New tools like Sway and Planner, are ways to make instant PowerPoint presentations, and manage projects.

Recently Microsoft has made Office programs compatible with more Apple and Android devices.

With Office 365, a service that starts at $7 a month and includes online versions of the apps, users get monthly updates: New Excel chart types, new co-working tools, more tie-ins with the Cortana virtual assistant app and other enhancements based on user feedback.

Microsoft has successfully persuaded 15 million consumers and 4 of 5 Fortune 500 companies to subscribe to it’s new “software as a service” model.

Office 2016 requires Windows 7 or newer, and it’s free to new and existing Office 365 subscribers. Office also includes note-taking program OneNote.

Old-school, buy-it-once versions are still available for $149 for Windows and Mac (a $229 business option includes Outlook). These non-subscription copies get security updates, but they’re locked in to the Sept. 22 version on the feature side. They will not have the Publisher or Access programs either.

New items include several “intelligent” tools. Outlook will try to determine how you manage your inbox and automatically organize it for you. A new search box called Tell Me on PowerPoint, Word and Excel lets you search for a feature — say “Columns” — and immediately pull up the relevant menu. That saves you from reading through a help article or digging around menus. When not connected to the Internet, some features will automatically turn off while the document remains accessible.

You can learn more about Office 2016 here.

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Apple Updates iOS 9 Less Then a Week After It’s Release

Less then a week after iOS9 has been released Apple releases an update due to numerous bugs.

Apple has already rolled out an update to its recently released mobile OS – iOS 9. The first update to Apple’s new operating system will fix a few reported glitches. The company has issued an instruction guide on its website for users looking to fix the bug. The update is available as an OTA download for all the devices that support iOS 9.

iOS 9.0.1 will fix a bug which was reported by many users wherein the device stuck on the ‘Slide to Upgrade’ screen after updating to iOS 9 or while restoring from a backup. The company also fixes the glitches, including inability to complete the setup assistant process after upgrading the device to iOS 9.

Additional improvements include fixing the bug that would cause alarms and timers to fail when activated. It also fixes an issue in Safari and Photos where pausing a video could cause the paused frame to appear distorted. iOS 9.0.1 also fixes an issue that caused many users with a custom APN setup via a profile settings to lose mobile data. Lastly, the new update will also offer a few security fixes.

Follow the below steps to update to iOS 9.0.1:

1. Connect your iOS device to a computer. Then make sure that iTunes is open.

2. While your device is connected, press and hold the Sleep/Wake and Home buttons until you see the Connect to iTunes screen.

3. When asked, choose Update.

4. Once the restore is done, finish the onscreen steps to set up your device.

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Office 2016 Arrives

Today Microsoft released its Office 2016 productivity suite. On the surface Office 2016 may not seem to look much different then Office 2013 however under the hood is where some real enhancements have been made.

Office 2016 upgrades Office desktop apps for Windows. The productivity suite includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Project, Visio and Access. Microsoft is encouraging customers to access the apps through Office 365, which offers continual updates for use across multiple devices. Office 365 also offers services like OneDrive online storage Relevant Products/Services, Skype for Business, Delve, Yammer and enterprise-grade security Relevant Products/Services features.

Microsoft is billing Office and Windows 10 as “the most complete solution for doing”. Beyond the traditional productivity suite, customers using Windows 10 can tap into Sway to create presentations while Office Mobile apps on the platform work to keep road warriors and remote workers productive, working with Continuum to let users operate smartphones like PCs. Windows Hello lets users log on to Windows and Office 365 at the same time and Cortana interfaces with Office 365 to help users prepare for meetings. Microsoft said Outlook integration is coming in November.

Co-Authorizing

Office 2016 has been built with teamwork in mind. One example that I really like is the co-authoring feature, which is now available in Word, PowerPoint and OneNote desktop software. Co-authoring allows real-time Relevant Products/Services typing in Word that lets users see others’ edits as they make them, and the Skype in-app integration lets users tap into IM, screen share, talk or hold video chats within Office documents.

Office 365 Groups & Planner

Office 365 Groups are now part of Office 2016. Groups strives to help drive a team experience in the productivity suite. Meanwhile, Office 365 Planner gives teams tools to create new plans, organize and assign tasks, mark deadlines, and update statuses.

Sway

Another new feature which I have been using in a preview for a while know is Sway. With Sway you are able to create presentations in seconds right from any mobile device or your PC and share them on social media sites like Facebook.

Data Protection

Later this year, Microsoft will enable enterprise data protection Relevant Products & Services in Windows 10, with support in Office Mobile. This will allow for more secure corporate content sharing across corporate managed apps and network and cloud locations, which prevents inadvertent content sharing outside corporate boundaries.

The new Office 2016 apps are available in 40 languages and require Windows 7 or later. Office 365 subscribers can choose to download the new Office 2016 apps as part of their subscriptions. Automatic updates will begin rolling out to consumer and small-business subscribers in October, and to commercial customers early next year. Office 2016 is also available today as a one-time purchase for both PCs and Macs.

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Apple Removes Infected iOS Apps

Apple has removed a large number of apps from its store after it was found that around 40 iOS apps had been infected by a modified version of the company’s software for developers.

Last week Apple announced that it has removed apps from the App Store that it knows have been created with counterfeit software in order to protect its customers.

Palo Alto Networks reported last week that a new malware, called XcodeGhost, modified the Xcode integrated development environment for building apps for the Mac, iPhone and iPad.

The security firm reported last Friday that it had found that over 39 apps, including many popular Chinese apps, had been infected by the malware. Some of these apps are used outside China.

It was recommended that that all iOS developers be aware and take necessary actions. XcodeGhost, which targets compilers, collects information on devices and uploads the data to command and control servers.

The mode of attack can also be used to target enterprise iOS or OS X apps in “much more dangerous ways,” Palo Alto researcher Claud Xiao wrote.

Palo Alto Networks further stated that XcodeGhost was a “very harmful and dangerous” malware that could prompt fake phishing dialogs, open URLs, and read and write clipboard data, which in some cases can be used to read passwords.

Some analysts have suggested that the compromised Xcode may have been downloaded from a server in China to get around slow Internet connections to Apple’s own servers.

The good news here is that Apple is being aggressive in their respond and removing the infected apps.

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Apple Embraces Ad Blockers

Ad Blockers are becoming very popular these days. Why is that? Very simply most ads pop up or eat up website space and slow internet browsing down.

Now Ad Blockers are coming to your iPhone, if you want it. Thank You Apple.

A $2.99 app called Peace, promises to block “most ads and privacy-invading trackers on web pages”. To prove the popularity of this type of feature Peace is the top paid app in the App Store. Then there is a $3.99 app called Purify Blocker which stands at at No. 4 on the paid-apps charts. And a 99 cent app called Blockr is No. 17 on the charts.

Why this sudden interest in ad blockers? Apple’s new iOS 9 software, adds a feature that allows the Safari Web browser to tap into content blocking from third-party apps. You simply install such an app and then set Safari to use it to block advertisements and similar content as you surf the Web.

As I said at the start of this article ads have long been a sore spot for people surfing the Internet.

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Surface Pro Goes on Sale … for a Short Time

If you are looking to pick up a new laptop now may be the time to take a serious look at Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3.

microsoft surface pro 3

Microsoft has discounted its Surface Pro 3 by as much as 19% in a sale that ends today, likely trying to reduce its inventory as it prepares to launch the successor in three weeks.

The Surface Pro 3, available in Microsoft’s retail outlets and on its e-store, was discounted between $100 and $200, depending on the model, representing reductions of between 8% and 19%.

The sale began Tuesday and ends today at midnight.

An entry-level Surface Pro 3 — the model powered by an Intel Core i3 and equipped with 64GB of storage space — was discounted by $150, or 19%, the largest price cut in percentage terms, to $649. The smallest discount — for the 256GB model with a Core i5 processor — was 8%.

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iOS 9 Arrives Tomorrow

If you have a relatively new model iPhone, iPad or iPod, you will soon be able to download what Apple is calling “its most advanced mobile operating system yet” otherwise known as iOS 9. Available starting tomorrow as a free update, iOS 9 is being touted by Apple as more intelligent and more proactive than any previous version.

Among the changes you are most likely to notice include, new support for multitasking; a new News app; the addition of public transit information in Maps (not available in the Philadelphia area sadly); and an updated Siri digital assistant that’s quicker to offer both answers and suggestions.

Before upgrading to iOS 9, Apple you should take the usual precaution of backing up the content on their devices first. The new mobile operating system will work on the iPhone 4 and later generations, fifth-generation and later iPod Touches, and the iPad 2 and iPad mini and up.

Peek and Pop with your IPhone

Perhaps Apple’s most daring change will arrive with the release of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus on September 25. The new 3D Touch responds to the amount of pressure a user puts on the device, which Apple reported will enable new gesture controls such as “Peek and Pop” (i.e., press lightly to peek at an app, press harder to pop into the content).

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Blocking Ads with AdBlock

Do you get tired of seeing advertisements when browsing the internet? I know I do and now with user-based advertisements seemingly following us I really am growing tired of these advertisements, even if they seemingly are showing me points of interest to me. So how can we stop these ads if we do not want them? The best way today to do this is through browser extensions.

Browser extensions are small applications that run inside your browser for very specific purposes. A wide range of available extensions is one of the reasons Google’s Chrome is so popular. So with this in mind check out “AdBlock” for Chrome if you want to end ads while browsing the internet.

What is AdBlock?

AdBlock for Chrome is the go-to extension if you want to remove ads, pop-ups, and other annoyances that get in the way of viewing a page. It’s easy to add to your browser and gets to work right away.

Pros

It works: In AdBlock, a handy number under the icon in the browser toolbar shows you how many items it’s blocking, so you know it’s always working.

Customizable: Although you can just add the extension and go, there are plenty of ways to customize which sites it works on, and a quick menu lets you quickly turn the application off for a page you’re on or even all subpages within a specific domain.

Cons

Pay what you want: The software is free to use, but the publisher does ask you to ante up what you think AdBlock is worth. It’s not a huge drawback, but you will be asked to pay. The default amount is set to $35.

Bottom Line

AdBlock for Chrome does a stellar job of keeping only the content you want on a page. That means no ads, pop-ups, nor other distractions. If you use Chrome, this is a must-have.

You can learn more and download AdBlock here.

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Office 2016 Gets a Launch Date

I have been using Microsoft’s soon-to-be released Office 2016 for about 6 months now and I must say that although it is not flashy it is a improvement over 2013 and offers new integration for social media and cloud services that make it a must for Office users.

The new suite of Office applications which is set to launch on September 22 will give Office 365 ProPlus business subscribers a choice of two types of ongoing updates. As they have in the past, company and organizational users can continue to receive feature and security updates on a monthly basis under an option now called “Current Branch.”

For enterprise users, there will also be a new update option called “Current Branch for Business,” which will deliver three feature updates annually while providing monthly security updates. The option is designed for organizations that prefer to wait for updates, need time for testing or want to better manage customizations, Microsoft said.

Users with personal or home subscriptions who update to Office 2016, meanwhile, will begin seeing automatic monthly updates starting in October.

New Ways To Upgrade and Deploy

“We’ve enhanced the upgrade and installation experience, and for Office 365 subscribers, we’ve made changes to how the 2016 apps are updated moving forward,” Julia White, general manager of Office 365 Technical Product Management, stated earlier this week in a blog post. “We’re also delivering new tools and resources to help you prepare, deploy and manage Office.”

The Current Branch for Business option was developed based on feedback from many users who currently run Office 365 ProPlus, White said. The approach is similar to that taken by Microsoft with its new Windows 10 operating system, she added.

The first Current Branch for Business build, which will come out in February, will be “effectively the same feature set as the September 22nd release, but with four additional months of security updates also included,” White noted.

Business users with volume licensing agreements for Office will be able to download the Office 2016 suite from Microsoft’s Volume Licensing Service Center starting October 1.

 

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