Cortana Won’t Be Available on Xbox Until Next Year!

CortanaYou would think it would be there first!

Cortana won’t be available on the Xbox One until next year

The Verge – By: Tom Warren – “Microsoft is currently testing a new Windows 10-powered dashboard for the Xbox One. While the update includes a number of new features, one of the big additions is Cortana integration. Microsoft has demonstrated how Cortana works in the new dashboard with various videos, but the company is now revealing that it won’t be available with the Xbox One update in November. ‘Our plan is to add Cortana to the Xbox One experience preview later this year,” says Microsoft’s Larry Hryb (Major Nelson). ‘From there, we’ll ensure that the experience is tuned for gamers before we officially launch Cortana in 2016.”

It’s not clear what has caused the delay, but there was no mention of the 2016 date back in June when Microsoft first detailed the Cortana integration for Xbox One. In a promotional video at the time, Microsoft said Kinect was required for Cortana speech recognition, so it’s possible the roll out delay could allow the company to make the digital assistant work with headsets.

Despite the change, Microsoft is still pressing ahead with its new Xbox One experience preview. The software maker is adding more Xbox One preview members to the dashboard test this weekend. An Xbox beta app for Windows 10 also includes new features like party text chat to allow friends to message each other in a party instead of using voice. Inline notifications has also been added, allowing you to reply to a message from a notification. Microsoft is also enabling notifications for Xbox Live members adding you as a friend or liking, sharing, or commenting on a game clip or post.”

Information from the Google Nexus Announcements!

Nexus PhonesI am REALLY leaning toward the new Nexus 6P!

Nexus 5X vs. Nexus 6P – Comparison

Value Walk – By: Christopher Morris – “Android fans have reason for great excitement as Google has recently announced two new Nexus smartphones. The Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P are totally different in terms of size, design and performance, but both promise outstanding specifications and a unique smartphone experience. Certainly discerning Android consumers will already be wondering which one to purchase, so here is a comparison of the qualities of the two devices.

Nexus 5X vs Nexus 6P – Android Marshmallow
The first thing to note about the two handsets is that both will run off Android 6.0 Marshmallow. This latest Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) operating system is considered to be an improvement over Lollipop and Android fans will already be itching to get their hands on this software.

It is notable that both the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P are large devices. This is not a huge surprise in itself, because the general trend in smartphones is seemingly for ever more hefty handsets. As technology moves towards 4K resolution and consuming media via smartphones on a larger scale, it is natural for screen sizes to increase in line with this.

So it is interesting to compare the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P with the previous iterations in the Nexus series:

Nexus 5X – 5.2-inch, 1080p IPS LCD display, 147.0 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm and 136g

Nexus 6P – 5.7-inch, 2K AMOLED display, 159.4 x 77.8 x 7.3mm and 178g

Nexus 5 – 5-inch, 1080p IPS LCD display, 137.9 x 69.2 x 8.6mm and 130g

Nexus 6 – 6-inch, 2K AMOLED display, 159.2 x 82.3 x 10mm and 184g

Certainly the discerning Android customer wanting the best screen quality possible will opt for the Nexus 6P. But the question of which mobile to opt for isn’t actually that simple.

The design of the two new smartphones divert significantly in design terms. The Nexus 5X has retained the molded plastic finish of the Nexus 5, but the Nexus 6P has significantly broken with Nexus tradition. This is the first aluminum Nexus handset that Google has released, and the attractively crafted body has already prompted a strong response from critics. There is also a black bar that houses the camera, NFC and antennas, and although this has not met with universal approval, it nonetheless provides character to the design of the device.

Nexus 5X features a curved plastic body and visible seams, and is less obviously distinctive, but nonetheless retains a pleasant visual appearance.

Google has ensured that these are state-of-the-art devices with some interesting features being included in both smartphones. However, it is notable that both the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P lack wireless charging, which is something of an Achilles heel for both devices. But Google does claim that both new phones will charge more than twice as quickly as the new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus.

However, there are outstanding ‘Nexus Imprint’ fingerprint scanners included, along with a USB 3.0 Type-C reversible fast charger. The inclusion of the revolutionary new USB Type-C will be particularly welcome.

There is little to choose between the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P in the camera department, although this is one area where Google has particularly promoting its two new devices. Both feature snappers that are ostensibly superior to the recent iPhone 6S in specification terms, with a 12.3-megapixel lens present in both devices.

The lack of 4K video recording and optical image stabilization may be damaging to both devices, but Google appears to have the latter base covered. The software and technology giant claims that the increased micron size included in the new smartphones insures that the amount of light absorbed by the devices is so great that optical image stabilization becomes redundant.

One difference between the two devices is that the Nexus 6P handles slow motion at 240fps compared to 120fps on the 5X, and also supports ‘Burst mode’ which shoots at 30fps. Burst mode also includes some nifty functionality that enables the device to select the best photograph from a number taken.

Processor and memory
The Nexus 6P is certainly the superior of the two devices in terms of performance. Featuring a Snapdragon 810 version 2.1, the device is armed with 3GB of DDR4 RAM. By comparison, the Nexus 5X is fitted with a Snapdragon 808, and 2GB of DDR3 RAM.

Battery life
Battery capacity of both Nexus devices has significantly improved from the last Nexus generation. Battery life has previously been criticized in these Google handsets, but it seems that this particular element of the smartphone range is about to improve significantly.

The Nexus 5X features a 2,700 mAh battery capacity, witch compares to the 2,300 mAh rating of the last generation. The Nexus 6P has also been significantly improved to 3,450 mAh from 3,220 mAh in the Nexus 6. The battery increases in themselves ought to ensure that battery life is significantly improved in this Nexus generation, but there is more good news for Android fans in software terms as well.

Marshmallow brings the release of ‘Doze’, which will massively improve battery life by ensuring that battery drain is reduced by limiting the ability of apps to mark a device in the background. Early testing indicates that between 30 and 100 percent more standby time is possible via this innovation. Google also states that Marshmallow is significantly faster and more efficient, and we should see massive battery increases in the Nexus range as a result.

Google has boasted that the Nexus XP is capable of lasting well beyond a day, and considering the Type-C quick charging included in the unit, it is not inconceivable that the new Google handset could lead the way in the marketplace in terms of battery life. Anyone that has used a Nexus device in the past will know that this is an extremely surprisingly scenario.

The pricing of the Nexus 6 perhaps didn’t go down particularly well with Android fans last year, so Google has assessed this pricing policy accordingly with the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. Consequently, the entry-level units for both of the smartphones are particularly attractively priced, with the Nexus 5X starting at $379 for the 16GB edition. The Nexus 6P is priced at $499 for the 32GB version, which represents the basic smartphone of this model, and prices increase up to $649 for a 128GB model.

It is notable that the premium version of the Nexus 6P is $100 less in price than an entry-level 16GB iPhone 6S Plus. This is certainly represent a bargain for smartphone fans should one wish to opt for these two new Android competitors. There are also compelling price savings over the Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) Galaxy range.

One possible criticism is that the Nexus 5X only offers 32GB of storage. This is a pretty paltry number for what is the premium smartphone of the range, and one wonders whether it will really be satisfactory in these storage-Intensive times.

There is no doubt that the Nexus 6P is the premium of these two offerings, and it is equally certain that both units represent outstanding value for money. Google has certainly impressed with the pricing of the two devices, and this may make it possible for many would-be Nexus purchasers to overlook the lack of optical image stabilization, wireless charging and expandable storage in the two devices.

The Nexus 5X, though, could be considered the best budget Android phone available, particularly at the price point that Google has released it. If Google has failed to challenge the supremacy of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung in the smartphone marketplace, these two new offerings from the search engine giant could begin to redress the balance.”

Alphabet’s Motto

Is “Do the right thing” the same as “Don’t be evil?” I’m not sure!

Google’s ‘Don’t Be Evil’ Becomes Alphabet’s ‘Do the Right Thing’

Wall Street Journal Tech – By: Alistair Barr – “‘Don’t be evil’ is so 2004.

Alphabet Inc. posted a new code of conduct for its employees Friday, after Google completed its transformation into a holding company. There were few substantive changes in more than 20 documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission; the Alphabet code of conduct, posted on its website, is among them.

Google’s code of conduct, of course, is best-known for its first line, which was also included in Google’s 2004 filing for its initial public offering: ‘Don’t be evil.’

Alphabet’s code doesn’t include that phrase. Instead, it says employees of Alphabet and its subsidiaries ‘should do the right thing – follow the law, act honorably, and treat each other with respect.’

‘Don’t be evil’ marked Google’s aspiration to be a different company. But the phrase also has been held up by critics who say Google has not always lived up to it.

Google’s code of conduct is much longer than Alphabet’s. It includes idiosyncracies about drinking alcohol at work (OK but not too much) and taking pets to the office (dogs are cool but cats are discouraged).

The Alphabet code sticks to the basics: avoid conflicts of interest, maintain integrity and obey the law.

To be sure, the vast majority of Alphabet employees will still be Google employees, part of the core search-and-advertising unit that is the new holding company’s biggest division. Those workers are still covered by Google’s code of conduct and the ‘Don’t be evil’ motto.

However, the change does show how the re-organization could let new businesses develop their own cultures, separate from Google.

Who knows, maybe Nest employees prefer cats?

‘Individual Alphabet companies may of course have their own codes to ensure they continue to promote compliance and great values,’ a Google spokesman said. ‘But if they start bringing cats to work, there’s gonna be trouble with a capital T.’

Let’s just hope the self-driving car group doesn’t stray too far from the ‘Don’t be evil’ creed.”

Geek Software of the Week: Zulip!

And, since we are talking about Zulip in our earlier post… here you go! Zulip for you!

Zulip – Open Source Texting

“This year’s Dropbox Hack Week saw some incredible projects take shape – from the talented team that visited Baltimore to research food deserts, to a project to recreate the fictional Pied Piper algorithm from HBO’s Silicon Valley. One of the most special elements of Hack Week, though, is that often times we’re able to share these exciting projects openly with our users and our community.

At Dropbox, we love and depend on numerous excellent open source projects, and we consider contributing back to the open source community to be vitally important. Popular open source projects that Dropbox has released include the zxcvbn password strength estimator, the Djinni cross-language bridging library, the Hackpad codebase, and the Pyston JIT for Python.

During this year’s Hack Week, we reassembled the original team from Zulip (a group chat application optimized for software development teams that was acquired by Dropbox in 2014) to tackle open sourcing Zulip on an ambitious timeline. Today, on behalf of the Zulip team, I’m very excited to announce that we have released Zulip as open source software!

We took on this project during Hack Week in order to enable Zulip’s users to enjoy and improve a product they love. Zulip’s users are passionate about the product, and are eager to make their own improvements, and we’re excited to be able to offer them that opportunity. In particular, the Recurse Center has announced plans to work on the Zulip open source project.

To make Zulip maximally useful to the world, we have released it under the Apache license, and we’ve released everything, including the server, Android and iOS mobile apps, desktop apps for Mac, Linux and Windows, and the complete Puppet configuration needed to run the Zulip server in production.

The world of open source chat has for a long been dominated by IRC and XMPP, both of which are very old and haven’t advanced materially in the last decade. In comparison, Zulip starts with many useful features and integrations expected by software development teams today and has a well-engineered, maintainable codebase for those that are missing. We’re very excited to see what people build on top of Zulip.”

Dropbox Open Sources Zulip

Gotta love them supporting Open Source.

Dropbox releases its chat app Zulip under an open-source license

TNW News – By: Jackie Dove – “Dropbox has released its recently acquired chat app, Zulip under an open-source Apache license.

According to a blog post by Zulip co-founder Tim Abbott announcing the move, Dropbox has released everything, including the server, Android and iOS mobile apps, desktop apps for Mac, Linux and Windows, and the Puppet configuration necessary for running the Zulip server in production.

Abbott had this to say about the overall genre:

The world of open source chat has for a long been dominated by IRC and XMPP, both of which are very old and haven’t advanced materially in the last decade. In comparison, Zulip starts with many useful features and integrations expected by software development teams today and has a well-engineered, maintainable codebase for those that are missing. We’re very excited to see what people build on top of Zulip.

The threaded chat app’s client and server code is now available on GitHub, and you can download clients for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android on Zulip’s site. The Zulip site also contains various hints on how to get started with building integrations and other enhancements for the app.

Dropbox has released the zxcvbn password strength estimator, the Djinni cross-language bridging library, the Hackpad codebase, and the Pyston JIT for Python as open source, as well.”

Sprint Will Not Participate in the Frequency Auction

And yet, nobody needs it like they do!

Sprint Drops Out of Spectrum Auction

PC Magazine – By: Chloe Albanesius – “Sprint has decided not to participate in the FCC’s big spectrum auction next year.

‘Sprint’s focus and overarching imperative must be on improving its network and market position in the immediate term so we can remain a powerful force in fostering competition, consumer benefits and innovation in the wireless broadband world,” Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a statement. “Sprint has the spectrum it needs to deploy its network architecture of the future.”

The auction will allow broadcasters to sell their unused spectrum to mobile carriers, and get a cut of the purchase price. Already moved from 2014 to 2015, a legal challenge last fall pushed the event into 2016.

Spectrum allocation might seem like a boring topic, but with more and more people picking up bandwidth-intensive gadgets, carriers need spectrum to support them. Without it, you could see a lot of buffering and dropped connections.

One of the big concerns from smaller carriers like Sprint and T-Mobile going into this auction, though, was whether their larger rivals, Verizon and AT&T, would use their sizable war chests to snap up all the desirable spectrum. Last year, there were reports that Sprint and T-Mobile would pool their assets and jointly bid on spectrum (but only if their now-failed merger bid was still in play). The FCC put the smackdown on that, and T-Mobile independently pushed for auction limits. The agency agreed to some restrictions—it set aside 30 megahertz of spectrum per market for smaller companies—but did not give T-Mobile everything it wanted.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere tweeted yesterday that Sprint is ‘crazy to sit out this historic auction.” T-Mobile ‘is going to go hard in this low-band spectrum auction and put that spectrum to good use for our customers.”

The last major spectrum auction of this nature was in 2008, when AT&T and Verizon were the big winners. Verizon has said it does not need any more huge blocks of spectrum, though recent reports suggest the company is weighing a lease of spectrum held by Dish.”

Apple 3D Touch

It does sound like a cool feature.

3D Touch Is Apple’s New Secret Weapon

Techcrunch – By: John Biggs – “I’m here to praise Apple again. Sorry. I have to do it. It’s not in my contract nor am I paid to do it – imagine if we were! We’d be rich! – but after manhandling the iPhone 6S Plus it’s abundantly clear that Apple has discovered another breakthrough. And they are surprisingly nonchalant about it.

Apple’s first interface breakthrough happened when it unleashed real multitouch on the world. Until the original iPhone, screens reacted to one single point and often required a stylus to operate. There were exceptions, but even after the iPhone launched competitors couldn’t keep up and had to release capacitive screen phones until they could join in the multi-touch game.

This next interface trick is far more subtle. By sensing pressure applied on the surface of the Apple Watch, the new MacBook trackpad, and the new iPhones, Apple has added a new layer to the touchscreen experience. In short, they have gone deep, allowing us to move past surfaces and into more dynamic menu systems and even UI tactics. As it stands 3D touch is pretty boring right now but imagine 3D touching into an MRI scan or anatomy textbook. Imagine 3D touching through the cosmos. Imagine 3D touching in games where you focus with a little pressure. There is a clear reason Apple abandoned the moniker of ‘Force Touch:’ what their experience offers has less to do with force and a lot more to do with a three dimensional experience.

3D Touch isn’t an incremental update. It is a real tool and you can be sure that, by CES time, manufacturers from Samsung to Xaomi will be offering stuff called Push Touch, Deep Finger, and Insert UI for their phones. It is inevitable. And Apple had it first.

This is not to say I don’t appreciate what competitors have brought to the table. Samsung’s Edge series is one of the most compelling and amazing screen technologies to reach the market in a long time and many manufacturers are doing things with materials and design that is to be commended. But non of them have released anything that intrinsically changes how we, as humans, interact with the slabs of glass and metal we hold in our pockets at all times. That’s a unique thing.

I’m not saying Force Touch has changed the world. What it has done is tweak the world in a very meaningful way. Apple’s products are starting to hit more senses. Thanks to haptics the iPhone and the Apple Watch are able to tap into our nervous system. In that case, Apple nuzzles us, offering a feather flick of interaction. Interestingly, I’m already feeling ‘phantom taps’ even when I wear a mechanical watch, a sign that old Pavlov was right.

With 3D Touch, The Apple devices ask us to touch them with a little more intent, to move past the glass and into something deeper behind the surface. This is an important change in how we use our phones and one sure to be successful. Of all of the other improvements in these new phones, 3D Touch is the most compelling and it is the one so subtle that Apple itself didn’t really talk it up during the keynote or briefings. ‘By the way,’ they seemed to say. ‘You can now stick your finger through the phone. No big deal.’

Apple hasn’t dented the universe in a while but they have tapped it with lots of force. They’ll ding it eventually, but until then we can all enjoy the odd ‘Tick’ of this latest feature.”

The Google Nexus 6P Phone Sounds Awesome!

Nexus 6PI may have found my new phone!

Nexus 6P Presentation Leak Includes More Images, Confirms Metal Body, Gorilla Glass 4, And 3450mAh Battery

Android Police – By: Michael Crider – “The leaks continue to flow out of Mountain View. The latest information on Huawei’s Nexus 6P, the larger and presumably more expensive of the two Nexus devices Google is expected to announce next week, comes from a public image gallery posted to Imgur. It’s a series of slides that appear to be designed for retail employees to use as an information and promotional tool. The slides include a set of hardware specifications and new photos.

By the way, that metal body means that the phone probably doesn’t feature wireless charging, but I’d be amazed if Qualcomm’s quick charging wasn’t included.

Slides dedicated to the camera and fingerprint sensor don’t reveal much that we didn’t already know – the marketing text says the camera ‘allows in more light,’ which probably just means a low F-stop value. The first slide in the deck includes a mention of Gorilla Glass 4, the latest design of enhanced tempered glass from Corning.

Other slides include more information on the benefits of Android 6.0 Marshmallow and Now on Tap, which most of you should be familiar with, and the last slide confirms that the Nexus 6P will be available in 32, 64, and 128GB capacities. Based on the Aluminium, Graphite, Frost, and Gold color choices, it looks like the body is made of aluminum (which is hardly surprising). And apparently that Gold color will only be available in Japan, at least during the initial launch of the phone. Google has a habit of releasing new colors late into a Nexus phone life cycle, so take that for what it’s worth.

One last tidbit: one of the slides includes a slightly angled photo of the rear of the Nexus 6P, which shows that the camera ‘bump’ so commonly derided in previous leaks may be less noticeable than we had hitherto thought. It’s still there, certainly, but it’s not quite as pronounced as it looked in other renders and leaked photos.

There’s still a few things we haven’t been able to confirm: the price, still unmentioned, and the display panel type, though IPS-LCD seems most likely. Google will announce the Huawei Nexus 6P, along with the LG Nexus 5X (and probably a few other things), in San Francisco on September 29th.”

Skype Connection Issues

Having trouble with Skype? Microsoft is aware and working on the issue

Windows Central – By: Rich Edmonds – “Skype appears to be having trouble staying online and connecting humans worldwide. We’ve received numerous reports from readers who have been unable to access Microsoft’s communication platform. We’ve been able to confirm that Skype is indeed down, but luckily Microsoft appears to be aware of the issue and is actively working on it.

‘Some of you may experience problems with Skype presence and may not see online. We have detected an issue with the status settings of Skype. Affected users will not be able to change their status, their contacts will all show as offline and they will be unable to start Skype calls to them.’

Interestingly, the web version of Skype still works, so if you’re in desperate need to communicate with a contact, you could try your luck on the web client. Also, Microsoft states that instant messages are still being delivered as usual, and you should be able to make calls and send messages on the web. We’ll update this article once services are back up and running.

Update: After several hours of downtime, Microsoft is now restoring Skype access after figuring out what went wrong:

We have identified the network issue which prevented users from logging in and using Skype today. We’re in the process of reconnecting our users, and focused on restoring full service. The issue did not affect Skype for Business users.’

Update 2: While a number of Skype users have indeed had their service restored, it looks like there are still reports of users who cannot sign into Skype.”

Chromecast Audio: Project Hendrix

An audio-only Chromecast is coming to enable your speakers!

Exclusive: Chromecast Audio, codenamed ‘Hendrix,’ is a separate device & made to WiFi-enable your speakers

9to5Google – By: Stephen Hall – “We told you earlier today about the 2nd generation Chromecast, scheduled to be launched later this month. We also mentioned that Google is planning to launch something called ‘Chromecast Audio,’ although details were unclear until now. Thanks to several sources familiar with Google’s plans, 9to5Google has learned that Chromecast Audio is indeed a second Chromecast device targeted specifically at WiFi-enabling the speakers in your home, launching alongside the 2nd generation device…

Not to be confused with Google Cast for Audio, which is Google’s platform for making speakers and other audio hardware directly compatible with the Chromecast, ‘Chromecast Audio’ is a second Chromecast scheduled to be made official at Google’s September 29th event alongside many other announcements.

Sources have also informed us that the device goes by the codename ‘Hendrix,’ which makes sense given it being audio and music-focused.

As seen in the image we published earlier today, this device can plug directly into any speaker by way of 3.5 mm headphone cable, and it appears Google might plan to include one with the device.

This device will, according to the documents and sources, have multi-room support, which could mean that several devices could power multiple speakers outputting the same audio at the same time. Additionally, the device is said to have the ability to mirror the audio coming from your Chrome browser or an Android phone. Google brags that the device will feature ‘high-quality’ audio, and that Spotify will indeed support it.”

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