Microsoft’s Edge Comes to Andriod & iOS

A new browser is arriving to your smartphone. While I love Chrome on my iPhone, I really can’t take Safari so I welcomed Microsoft’s Edge with open arms.

Rather than go down the path of having an open beta, Microsoft is releasing Edge for iOS via a TestFlight. This, sadly, is limited to just 10,000 users. Windows Insiders in the US can register their interest here. Lucky for me, I am a windows Insider and I have been testing out Edge for a couple of days now on my iPhone 8.

The same link is also good for Android users, who can download Microsoft’s beta from the Google Play store in the coming weeks.

If you do not want to sign up for the preview do not worry. I believe Edge will be avilable to everyone very shortly.

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Edge on Android and iOS lets you access the favorites and reading list you saved on your computer. It also comes with Reading View baked-in, which offers a delightfully distraction-free reading experience.

Astonishingly, the mobile versions of Edge don’t use the EdgeHTML layout engine, but rather whatever is standard on the device. So, if you’re on Android, Edge will take advantage of Blink/Chromium, while iOS users use WebKit/WKWebView.

That makes sense in many respects. Adapting Edge in its entirety for the two incumbent mobile platforms would probably be really technologically challenging. Although some issues are the same, like dealing with different screen aspect ratios and resolutions, Microsoft would have to pay close attention to performance and battery life. In this instance, it doesn’t really make sense to reinvent the wheel.

Hey – my technology blogs looks pretty darn good on the new Edge browser!

The last time Microsoft released a browser for a platform other than its own was… what? Internet Explorer 5.2 for Mac? And it swung the axe on that in 2003 – around 14 years ago.

Sa, as I stated at the outset of this post I am just a little excited about this. And by releasing Edge for iOS and Android, Microsoft is sending a sign of confidence in its product, even if the mobile incarnations of Edge are fundamentally different to what you’d get on the desktop. Ultimately, Microsoft wants to entice users who otherwise would have passed on it.

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And why wouldn’t Microsoft be proud of Edge? Although it isn’t my day to day browser on the PC yet (that prize goes to Chrome) Edge is a perfectly fine browser. Since Microsoft released it, almost two years ago, it’s improved significantly, and now scores roughly equally with Firefox when it comes to support for HTML5 standards.

In terms of battery life, security, and performance, it performs well. It occasionally surpasses Chrome, suggesting technical competition is neck-and-neck.

Its biggest weaknesses are its relatively lackluster extension marketplace (understandable, since that feature is roughly a year old), and the fact that it’s somewhat barebones.

Microsoft has been very open that this is part of its mobile strategy, as it pivots away from the wreckage of its failed Windows 10 Mobile operating system. But perhaps the launch of Edge for Android and iOS will have a secondary impact in garnering interest for Edge on the desktop, as those who previously wrote it off are re-acquainted with the brand.

And either way, competition is good, right?

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Facebook’s Updates It’s Look

Facebook’s mobile apps are getting a new look, though blink and you might miss some of the changes.

The most obvious update is coming to comments, which now look a lot more like a conversation in your average messaging app rather than than a series of posts. This falls in line with Facebook’s recent desktop tests, which display comment threads a bit more like group chats.

The idea is to make comments a bit more readable, and make it easier to see who’s replying directly to another person.

Facebook might also be trying to subtly make conversations with strangers a bit more friendly. The text bubble’s resemblance to a messaging app could make it feel more like you’re actually having a personal conversation with participants, rather than replying to a random internet thread.

Less obvious are the changes to the News Feed. Facebook is using a brighter shade of blue and has increased color contrast overall to make text more readable. The link previews are slightly larger – they now take up the entire width of your screen – and the Like, Comment, and Share buttons are now larger.

Throughout the new design, Facebook has also replaced it’s silhouette style icons with more iOS-like wireframes – for better or for worse. I like them, but your mileage may vary.

There are also other small tweaks like a more prominent back button and the ability to see where a link will take you before clicking on it.  The whole shebang looks a fair bit more like Instagram now.

Oh, and Facebook pulled a Twitter, switching perfectly fine square profile photos for circular ones.

Facebook will be rolling out the new design “over the coming weeks,” so you may not see it just yet. The new look certainly isn’t the most dramatic overhaul Facebook’s ever seen, but seems to mostly be for the better.

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A Look @ Microsoft’s Outlook App

I have been recommending the Outlook mail app for iOS and Android for almost 2 years now. I have also written about it several times. During the past several months Microsoft has updated their mail app and has made it even better.

Image result for outlook app ios

Why Outlook?

Outlook’s design is very clean & unique.

Outlook has 5 icons across the bottom: Mail, Calendars, Files, People, and Settings. The way it’s laid out makes it feel like a complete communications – file management ecosystem. You are only one tap away from getting what you need. It uses a light theme with black and blue text throughout. Usually I prefer darker themes, but I feel like the design is here is very easy on the eyes. I don’t ever feel like the UI user interface) is distracting; it melts away and allows me to focus on what I need to see.

From a usability perspective, Outlook really shines. It provides me with just enough options to make it my own, but not so many that I am overwhelmed or spend time tinkering.

Outlook calendar

I love the built-in calendar function. I like being able to see email and my schedule in one app. The compose screen is simple to use as well. It allows me to change which account I am sending from, add files, photos, send calendar invites, or see my calendar availability.

One important aspect of all third-party email apps is which types of email services it supports. Outlook supports Office 365, Outlook.com, Exchange, Yahoo, iCloud, Google, and IMAP. (POP3 isn’t supported, so if you require it, you need to look elsewhere.)

Outlook supported email accounts

Outlook has support for iPhones with 3D Touch features. From the 3D Touch menu, you can hop right to your calendar, create a new event, or start a new email. I find myself using the View Calendar function frequently. A Notification Center widget and watchOS app are included as well.

Outlook supports push notifications for new emails, or just “important ones” with a feature Outlook calls Focused Inbox.

Focused Inbox sorts your email so you see the important ones first. It does this by considering past emails from a particular sender and your address book. You can also reclassify emails as you go in order to help train it. The calendar feature can also notify you of upcoming appointments as well as send short emails letting the people in your meeting know you are running late.

The snooze/delay function of email was made popular by Mailbox, but has since become adopted by a handful of other apps. Outlook offers a feature that allows you to control which folder your snoozed emails are stored. Your options for snoozing are in a few hours, this evening, tomorrow morning, or a custom time. Outlook doesn’t offer the ability to customize these times, and I’d like to see that added in the future.

Like I mentioned earlier, I like the fact that Outlook has a built-in calendar. It also has native support for a number of file systems. It includes OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive. While this isn’t as important for attaching files (due to document providers), it does offer some advantages. There is a file screen that shows your most recent files for cloud document apps, as well as making saving attachments faster.

A recent update added third-party app integration through “add-ins.” Add-ins let you turn any email into a Trello card, save a message to Evernote, insert a GIF, translate messages, and more. These are currently only available to users with Office 365 email addresses, however.

You do not need to settle for the built-in mail apps on your iOS or Android smartphone. If you decide to take the time to explore other options, I definitely recommend starting with Microsoft’s Outlook app,

 

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SpyDealer Invades Private Data on Android

A recently discovered Android Trojan can apparently steal private data from more than 40 applications.

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The newly discovered trojan, SpyDealer is capable of stealing sensitive messages from communication apps using the Android accessibility service feature, and gains rooting privileges with the help of exploits from a commercial rooting app called Baidu Easy Root. It uses root privileges to maintain persistence on the compromised device.

According to Palo Alto Networks, the Trojan can remotely control the device via UDP, TCP and SMS channels. It can steal information from popular applications such as WeChat, Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Line, Viber, QQ, Tango, Telegram, Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, Android Native Browser, Firefox Browser, Oupeng Brower, QQ Mail, NetEase Mail, Taobao, and Baidu Net Disk.

Once the malware has compromised a device, it can harvest an exhaustive list of personal information, including phone number, IMEI, IMSI, SMS, MMS, contacts, accounts, phone call history, location, and connected Wi-Fi information. It can also answer incoming phone calls from a specific number, can record phone calls and the surrounding audio and video, can take photos with the device’s cameras, monitor location, and take screenshots.

Palo Alto Networks researchers couldn’t determine exactly how SpyDealer infects devices, but say that it isn’t distributed through the official Google Play store and that some users might have been infected via compromised wireless networks. The Trojan is only effective against Android 2.2 to 4.4 releases, given that these are the only versions the rooting tool it uses supports, meaning that it could potentially infect around 25% of all Android devices.

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Sonic Heads to Your Smartphone

Following in the tradition of Nintendo – Sega is making a comeback, thanks to your smartphone. The legendary video games company has launched Sega Forever, which is devoted to keeping the Sega name alive long into the future. And what better way to do that than to reach back into the past and bring classic Sega games to your smartphone.

Sonic I didn’t realize how much I missed you. Welcome to my iPhone!

There was a time, not so long ago, when Sega was the biggest games company on the face of the planet. In terms of consoles, the Genesis was a major success. And then there are the famous characters, such as Sonic the Hedgehog.

And then Sega released the Dreamcast, a woefully underrated console, and the whole thing went belly-up. Sega still exists, and still makes arcade machines and games for other consoles. And now, thanks to Sega Forever,the old Sega magic is back. Its a little bit smaller but more mobile then ever before.

Keeping Classic Sega Games Alive Forever

Sega Forever is the new banner under which dozens of classic Sega games will be released on Android and iOS. The games will be be available as free to play with supported by ads and ad-free for a one time payment of $1.99 (per title).

Sega has kicked things off with five Genesis titles: Sonic the HedgehogComix ZoneAltered BeastKid Chameleon, and Phantasy Star II. New games will be launched every two weeks, with titles from the Master System, the Game Gear, the Saturn, and the Dreamcast still to come.

All Sega Forever titles will be available to play offline, with online leaderboards available for those who like comparing their talents with others. The older Sega titles will be brought to smartphones thanks to emulation, while the more recent titles will require full ports to iOS and Android.

My biggest complaint here is that the free ad-supported version is truly annoying. The ads are everywhere and very intrusive. If you want to truly experience that old Sega magic spend the $1.99 on the ad-free version.

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App Spotlight – Outlook for iOS

Although I gave up on Microsoft’s Windows Phone a couple of years ago I still have plenty of good memories of me and my nifty Windows Phone. In fact if you are in a nostalgic mood you can browse my Windows Phone articles here.

All is not lost for Microsoft in the smartphone world. Even though I gave into Apple empire for both myself personally and my organization all is not lost. That’s because Microsoft has been publishing apps at an amazing rate during the past two years and many of them are simply top notch.

One of my favorite Microsoft Apps is “Outlook”. Why do I recommend trashing Apple’s default mail app and installing Outlook?

Phones with Outlook app.

Innovation and Consolidation 

The Microsoft Outlook app is a mobile productivity powerhouse, bringing your email, attachments, contacts and calendars into easy reach. Outlook’s built-in analytic engine automatically surfaces important email (across multiple accounts) based on your communications, and quick swipe controls allow you to easily triage your email. It’s a great mobile email app, and works with Exchange, Office 365, Outlook.com, Gmail, Yahoo Mail and iCloud email accounts.

Also included with Outlook is your calendar, files (OneDrive, Box, Dropbox & Google Drive) and contacts. If you are using Apple’s default apps you have separate programs for each of these. With Outlook – you have one app to control them all.

Of course if you rely on Microsoft Outlook on your desktop this is the perfect companion app on your smartphone or mobile device.

You can learn more about Microsoft’s Outlook app here.

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Our Adware Battle Continues

Over the past couple years, we have focused much attention on Ransomware, and that’s for good reason. However old threats are still here to make our digital lives miserable as well. One of the oldest surviving threats we continue to deal with is adware.

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Adware Today

There’s no denying that adware is a big problem. In fact 2016 saw a huge spike in Mac OS malware, mostly due to bundled adware. Google has tried tackling this problem by kicking known adware distributors out of the Play Store.

Google is perhaps the most aggressive trying to battle adware today because Android especially has seen a great deal of adware in recent years.

Earlier this year, a number of Android phones were discovered to have been infected with powerful adware. The “infection” took place somewhere between the factory, and the business that ordered them. That means some Android phones were purchased with adware pre-installed!

Avoid Download Portals

Desktops also continue to be targeted. One of the popular ways of infecting desktop PCs are through download portals. Many people continue to unwittingly use download portals that bundle adware and other unwanted programs with legitimate apps that people are looking for.

Unfortunately, these download portals show up at the top of search results and trick searchers into thinking they’re getting the best version of the app. When you are looking for a specific app take the time to go directly to the software provider’s website. If you do not – and you simply click on the first link in the search results you may be using a download portal which usually will give you a boatload of unwanted apps, in addition to the one you actually wanted.

* Yes – I know I used the words “download portals” five times in this section. That’s because I want you to remember what they are – so you can avoid them.

Keeping Alert for Adware

As with any other type of malware, the best way to deal with adware is to be aware if them – and what they are. Here are four things to watch out for.

If Ads Abound on Your PC – Don’t Panic But You Do Need to Act

If you’ve been infected with adware, you’re going to be seeing a lot of ads. Pop-ups, in-app ads, browser takeovers, and all sorts of other annoying behaviors might happen.

Different types of adware behave differently.

phishing ad
Image Credit: Fireofheart via Shutterstock

However one thing that they all have in common is that they will show you a huge number of ads. You’ll notice more ads, more insistent and pervasive ads, and ads outside of the locations where you usually see them. If you’ve been seeing any of this stuff, download anti-adware software right away.

Just don’t get it from…

Third-Party App Stores

If you stick to Apple’s App Store, the Google Play Store, the Chrome Store, and other first-party, controlled app stores, you will be much safer than if you use third-party options.

The same rule for desktop and laptop software applies. Unless the app isn’t available from the Windows or Mac app stores — and you can’t find it on the developer’s website — avoid third party software download sites.

Watch for the Warnings

Believe it or not, you will often be warned right before you download adware. It’s those small print terms and conditions that often go ignored. Take the time to read them if you really – really want that free app. There’s a good chance that they contain something useful. They’ll often tell you that you’ll be getting something else in addition to the software you’re looking for.

No matter where you’re getting an app, make sure to at least browse the terms and conditions first. You just might save yourself the hassle of trying to deal with the problem later.

Avoid Free Versions of Software

If you found a place to download Microsoft Office for free, run the other way. You’re not going to get high-end, fully featured apps without paying. Someone might be offering it, but they’re probably offering a few other things that they aren’t telling you about, very likely adware – or worse.

Even apps that are normally free often carry some sort of adware. Ironically a number of illegitimate anti-virus apps have been discovered to come bundled with malware.

Always be very careful about where you get your software.

What to Do If You’ve Been Infected

Here are some warning signs to watch out for.

Have you noticed a lot more pop-ups than usual lately? Or advertisements that you can’t close? If you see a new toolbar (these are very popular), a new default search engine (also a common symptom), new programs that you don’t remember installing, or new bookmarks in your browser, you are then more likely infected with adware.

Do your best not to interact with any of these ads, as that may make the problem worse. Close — force close, if you need to — those apps and download an anti-adware application as soon as possible. Here are three choices that will help you rid your computer of adware for free.

Malwarebytes AdwCleaner (Windows)

With one of the best reputations in the game, Malwarebytes is a company you can trust to clean up your computer. Its AdwCleaner software specifically targets adware and browser hijackers, as well as “potentially unwanted programs,” which could include toolbars and other questionable downloads.

AdwCleaner is free, and all you have to do is download it and run it. It doesn’t get much easier.

BitDefender Antivirus Free Edition (Windows)

Another company with a great reputation, BitDefender is at the forefront of anti-malware tech. This lightweight antivirus app protects you from all sorts of mayhem, including adware and spyware. It also packs anti-phishing and anti-fraud features for additional protection.

While you get more features out of the paid version of this app, the free option is still a great way to go.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (Mac)

While some of anti-adware software out there only works on Windows computer, Malwarebytes’ anti-malware software will protect your Mac from attacks. This extremely lightweight client is great even if your Mac is starting to get old and slow down.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Macs don’t get adware. They do. So download this now.

And if you’re looking for mobile anti-adware apps, check out Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware. It’s free on the Play Store.

Be Proactive Against Adware

As with any type of malware, the best way to deal with adware is to not get infected in the first place. Make sure you have an up-do-date antivirus solution running on your computer, watch out for suspicious-looking sites, and remember that the best things in life aren’t free. Especially when it comes to software.

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Streaming Superbowl 51

It’s Superbowl Sunday and you are in a pickle. You either cancelled your cable (cord cutter) or you on the road. If you are in one of the situations… don’t panic. Their are options to catch the game. I do realize that my mighty Broncos are not in this year’s affair – and that’s OK because they can’t be in every year. I am sure the Broncos will be back in full force next season. This year we have the Patriots & the Falcons.

Here are some tips for catching the game if you don’t have cable or if you are on the road.

Over-the-air

If you have a digital antenna, you can (probably) catch the game, in HD, over-the-air. The channel varies with your local area, but it’ll be broadcast on your local Fox affiliate in some 170 local viewing areas.

Web, Phone, and Tablet

FoxSportsGo.com will host a free livestream of the event, complete with commercials. (Almost) any device with a web browser — smart TVs, laptops, and set-top boxes — can watch the game on the Fox Sports website with no need to log in, or to enter details about your cable package.

The one caveat here is that you can’t watch it on a smartphone, although who really wants to watch the game that way anyway? If you really want to tune in to the action on your smartphone, you’ll need to be a Verizon wireless subscriber. If that’s you, you can grab the app for either Android or iOS devices and stream via the NFL Mobile app.

If you’re on an iOS, Windows, or Android tablet (or Kindle), you can stream the game from the Fox Sports Go app for iOS, Windows, Android, or Amazon.

Set top boxes and video game consoles

SlingTV and PlayStation users are out due to licensing restrictions with the Fox network in Denver, but Xbox, AppleTV, Roku, Chromecast, AndroidTV, and FireTV users are in luck. You’ll have to download the Fox Sports Go app on your respective device, but you’ll be able to see all the action from your device.

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Outlook Mobile Gets 2 Year Anniversary Improvements

Outlook on my iPhone is awesome and may be my most used mobile app, and it just got better. That’s because today Microsoft today announced their two-year anniversary of Outlook Mobile for Android and iOS.

Starting today, the iOS version is gaining extensibility thanks to a new add-ins capability.

Outlook Mobile Hits Two Year Anniversary, Gets Extensible

Android will pick up this feature soon, Microsoft adds.

“Two years ago, we launched Outlook mobile with the goal of helping you accomplish more while on the go,” Microsoft’s Javier Soltero writes in a new post to the Office Blogs. “More means an inbox that helps you focus on the emails that matter most. More means a calendar that can manage your entire day, not just show you your schedule. And today, we are excited to continue that mission by bringing apps to your inbox with add-ins for Outlook on iOS.”

For this initial launch, Outlook for iOS will support several add-ins, including:

Dynamics 365. This add-in provides “real time insights about your business contacts and their organization, right in your inbox, so you can focus on the selling and have more meaningful interactions,” Microsoft says.

Translator. Helps you read messages in your preferred language, across devices, with support for 60 languages.

Nimble. Helps you get prepared for meetings and engage effectively with business intelligence about your email contacts and their organizations, right in email.

Trello. Turns your email into actionable items, keep track of projects, and make sure emails don’t go unseen.

Evernote. Capture what’s on your mind and stay organized by clipping emails from Outlook to a project notebook in Evernote.

Smartsheet. Helps you manage and automate work so you can get work assigned, updated, and completed more quickly.

GIPHY. This one helps you add GIFs to your emails. Why? Why ask why?

Microsoft is also providing developers with the information they need to write their own add-ins, so we should see these capabilities improve nicely over time.

Currently, add-ins are only available when reading email. But Microsoft says it will be adding more add-in actions for composing or replying to email in the future too.

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Microsoft Outlook’s Big iOS Update

Outlook is one of the bright spots for Microsoft in mobile and one of my most used apps. This week Microsoft issued a fairly major update on iOS that makes this already great app even better.

So, what issues does the latest version of Outlook address? Here’s the list.

Create and edit recurring events. You can now create and edit recurring events straight from the Calendar module in the app. (This feature requires an Office 365 subscription.)

Reading improvements. This is one that’s bothered me, but Microsoft has finally improved the way that emails with very small font are displayed. “They should now be much more readable,” Microsoft notes.

Search improvements. Outlook now displays search results by conversation rather than as individual results. “This means that if you search for ‘holidays’, [the app will] show you that very long family thread about what to have for dinner as just one result,” Microsoft notes. Previously, this might have displayed 23 (or whatever) different results.

Passbook support. Outlook now supports Passbook, the iOS wallet app, which is also used to store coupons, boarding passes, event tickets, store cards, and loyalty cards. Meaning you can now do things like see your flight details right from the inbox.

On Android, Outlook picked up that first change—the ability to create and edit recurring events—back in late December. But I’m not sure if the other improvements are available yet on Android.

And of course, as any Android-weilding user of Outlook will tell you, Microsoft has yet to address the single biggest—and most inexcusable—problem with Outlook, its inability to edit or manage contacts in any meaningful way. The software giant says it’s working on that.

Download Outlook for iOS

Download Outlook for Android

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