- Tabs - by no means a new feature, but Microsoft has added a few little tricks. The tabs can now be snapped out of place, and even if you are playing a video, detaching it doesn't lose your place as the video is constantly rendered. Taking (another) leaf from Chrome's book, there's the ability to close down one tab if a website begins to hang, as opposed to closing the entire browser. The new tab page shows frequently visited sites, and how much each site is visited. Byte Lounge was one of my most visited ;)
- Pinned Sites - not one of the most obvious new features, but it does come in pretty useful. Many people keep the same pages open all day long; Gmail, Facebook, Youtube etc, but mistakenly close them when they are together with a group of other open pages. IE9 now lets you sift out these site,s, and pin them directly to the taskbar, pulling the favicon so that it looks like a separate program.
- One Box – The address bar in IE9 doubles as a search bar, bit it has even more features. Being a Microsoft product, the default search engine is Bing, but there is the option to install Google, Wikipedia, Facebook and many others through the Add-On page. Bing is growing on as a search engine, and keeping it as the default has its perks: typing in terms like "Weather AMS" brought up the temperature and conditions online for example.
Apple iOS 4.1 and 4.2
iPod Shuffle, Nano and Touch
This, ladies and gentlemen, is a very very sad day. Seeing how users are tired of NVidia renaming their graphics chips over and over, AMD is taking a very different approach. As of Monday, the famous red ATI brand is no more.
The folks over at AMD must feel that having 2 immensely powerful brands is too much for your average consumer, and consequently, the ATI name will be axed. The product lines will be maintained, so you can still have your Radeon or FirePro, but the ATI EyeInfinity brand that was launched with the HD 5xxx series will become AMD EyeInfinity.
The first cards that will "take advantage" of this new naming will ship out later this year, and the whole thing is due to AMD's shift toward hybrid CPU/GPU chips, so its seen as beneficial to work under a unified brand strategy. Sure, this makes it easier to manage, but did AMD realise that there will no longer be a ATI red vs NVidia green war? The end of an era is upon us.
[image source: Endgadget]
We have just received confirmation from Vodacom that the country's largest mobile network will indeed be bringing the newly-announced BlackBerry Curve 3G to South Africa.
It is estimated to arrive in September, and should be a viable replacement for the older Curve 8520 model (the Curve 3G is model no. 9300).
So why should you care about this new phone? Well, if you, like me, are anticipating a move to the BlackBerry for its economical usage and functionality, then this is an ideal choice if you aren't wanting to splurge on the more expensive Bold 9700 or Torch 9800.
The Curve 3G is ready for the newly released BlackBerry OS 6 software (the Curve 8520 is not upgradeable to this newer version). It also includes 3G capability for faster internet browsing on the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS), and has a built-in GPS radio for navigation with BlackBerry Maps and other navigation apps (the Curve 8520 doesn't have these two features).
It's only fault could be the 2-megapixel camera, but in my opinion, if you already own a good-quality digital camera, there isn't much need for something powerful on a mobile phone (although RIM could've done better with this camera, seeing as most smartphones ship today with at least a 3.2 megapixel camera).
So, set your calendars for September 2010, when the new BlackBerry Curve 3G is expected to hit South African Vodacom stores nationwide.
This new model fits into the immensely popular Curve range, and finally brings 3G support to the series in what may be a full world-wide roll-out.
The model is called the Curve 3G (model no. 9300), and whilst it ships with the older BlackVerry OS 5, it is OS 6 ready, unlike its older siblings the Curve 8520 and 8530.
The 9300 also has GPS built-in, unlike its predecessor, and coupled with its support for an update to the latest BlackBerry OS 6, is in my opinion an all-round great phone. Unfortunately, however, the camera is stil 2-megapixel.
Byte Lounge has already contacted Vodacom in South Africa to find out when this phone will arrive, and we will post the latest as soon as we get a reply from them.
In the meantime, though, what do you think of this phone? Let us know in the comments below.
|Image courtesy of Techland|
This new phone takes a step away from the company's usual breed of mobile phone form-factor, delving into the area of the slider phone. Essentially, the Torch is a QWERTY-styled slider, and is the first ever BlackBerry smartphone that has a QWERTY keyboard and a touchscreen -- the best of both worlds, one can say.
The phone was unveiled in a joint-venture between RIM and American telecoms operator AT&T, so if this device releases internationally, its name may differ due to international regulations in certain countries.
But there's a lot of work RIM has to do in order to bring the ageing operating system on-par with its younger, more sophisticated counterparts from competitors Apple and Google.
As GigaOM writer Colin Gibbs wrote, "BlackBerry OS has failed to support the kind of rich-media that lures consumers". And this could never be true. Whilst the latest BlackBerry devices are able to play a host of video and audio files, the user experience leaves much to be desired.
And coupled with the emerging trend that pushes most mobile users into engaging via the Internet, the OS's native browser does not compare to the experience provided by the likes of Apple with it's intuitive and almost desktop-like Safari Mobile browser.
Furthermore, BlackBerry OS 6 will have to compete with the much-hyped and now finally released iOS 4 that powers the latest iPhones, and is soon to back the iPad. This could be the one major factor that RIM can win in; at present, Apple has been receiving a lot of bad press over the iPhone, especially concerning iOS 4 running on older iPhone 3G models; reports have been coming in fast of the devices freezing and not functioning as they used to when upgraded to iOS 4.
What I'd like RIM to do with the BlackBerry OS in version 6:
- Overhaul the user interface; bring it into the new age of mobile, and make it more intuitive to use.
- Improve the native browser; bring it on-par or make it even better than Apple's Mobile Safari.
- Allow the upgrade to be compatible with older BlackBerry smartphones; in other words, don't make it exclusive to newer, yet-to-be release phones.
- Make synchronising with computers easier.
Essentially, it's a trackpad for desktop computers, bringing the functionality of the company's famous multi-touch trackpad technology used on the MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air to the desktop. Naturally, it's also the "largest multitouch trackpad ever", according to the company's product page.
Now, the big question here is: why on Earth would someone need a trackpad for a desktop computer?
But we must remember that this is Apple we're dealing with here: they can sell you a cardboard box and make it sound as if it's so revolutionary you just have to have it.
The Magic Trackpad retails for $69 – about R503,43 when it comes to South Africa.
This gadget allows you to use this new peripheral to interface between yourself and your computer, using your fingers instead of holding a mouse. Think of it as a larger version of the Magic Mouse – just that you can't move it around.
What use could this be to us consumers, I hear you ask? At the present, graphic artists can perhaps use it to draw directly to the screen – if the application they're using can support this. Really, in my opinion, this gadget it merely eye-candy to show-off to your friends. If you really desire multi-touch for your desktop computer, then I guess this could fit the bill as well. By the way, this sleek gadget is for Mac computers only. Sorry, Windows folks... (although I don't think you'll be missing out much though).
What's your opinion of this new Apple product? How would you see yourself using it? Is it even worth buying? As always, share your opinions in the comments section below.
When MXit started out, the landscape was pretty desolate: they were a lone sole preaching their glorious technology to a country that hadn't yet experienced a feature-rich interactive communication tool. Coupled with mobile operators battling it out in a new, democratic South African economy – often to the detriment of the consumer – this new piece of software was like a godsend to South Africans; we were able to talk for less than a cent a message to friends and family across the country.
However, fast-forward a few years, and the social networking boom hit the world, most notably with Facebook "stealing" the limelight from MXit (both in users and controversy). Many people who I spoke to about this sudden shift in the communications landscape said relatively the same thing: MXit is boring; Facebook is far more fun.
And, for me, this still reigns true. Now, instead of logging on to MXit on a regular basis, clocking a fair amount of hours chatting to friends, I find myself increasingly visiting Facebook (either via my mobile or through the desktop site) to see what friends are up to, get the latest social buzz and occasionally chat to friends.
MXit's options are fairly limited, and what makes it worse, the software has been stuck on the version 5 moniker since late-2006, only offering updates in point-increments.
But let's not get too carried away with MXit's transition into the Web 2.0–era; the company is doing incredibly well at the moment, with major deals being inked with a myriad number of brands.
However, in order to capitalize on a whole new era, the company needs to adopt technology that can offer the features that users want: an integrated social experience. They currently do offer something akin to this, in the form of Twitter updates direct from the MXit client, but how about a more updated interface, with a desktop interface similar to a social networking website? Now that'd be a great way to drag users over from Facebook, and continue to propel the South African tech industry.
What are your thoughts on MXit? Do you use it as often as before? Share them in the comments below!
You see, Nokia still operates in the "old school" mindset that hardware is king and software plays second-fiddle in the broader scope of things.
Well, unfortunately for them, this concept hasn't worked out too well. Their investment in the Symbian OS to power leading product lines -- the N-and-Eseries -- has left them with products that boast superb hardware specs when compared to competitors, but lack the most fundamental aspect the discerning mobile user looks for in their next phone choice: the user experience.
Let's face it: the S60 operating system in today's Nokias is appalling. From jittery animations to terribly designed graphics (okay, the new Ovi look is cool, but the standard S60 icons from 3rd edition aren't that great), and an underlying system that gets bloated easily and suffers constant freezing and random reboots, the brains behind current Nokia products let down otherwise powerful devices.
The Ovi services have great potential -- but haven't been exploited to that extent yet. One need only look at the Ovi Store, and experience its poor selection of apps to realize that developers don't have time for a company that doesn't look after its software too well.
The success of a mobile phone company today relies on the menu of apps it offers its users. And quite frankly, Nokia has almost 0% offerings -- no native Twitter, Facebook or RSS apps for its overall selection of phones (only S60 5th Edition users benefit from a native Facebook app -- albeit one that is totally sub-par).
Thus the company is pinning its hopes on the face of the Symbian 3 operating system, an apparent complete redesign of the software. We can only hope that this redesign will bring the Finnish giant up-to-speed with current trend-setters like the iPhone and BlackBerry.
Gaming website IGN posted this video trailer of the upcoming Assassin's Creed game -- the third one in the popular installment -- called Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.
It will release primarily on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC on November 16, 2010. Will you be playing it?
Research in Motion's BlackBerry range of smartphones have taken the South African public by storm, especially with national carriers Vodacom and MTN offering the BIS service, in effect creating a free mobile Internet browsing experience that's long been sought after by discerning South African tech fans.
We'll be publishing informative how-to's, the latest news and rumours, upcoming products, opinion pieces and App World app reviews and recommendations.
The BlackBerry series will be a regular Byte Lounge feature. If you'd like something to appear on the feature, or have any tips for us about BlackBerry, please don't hesitate to drop us a line. Leave a message in the comments box or contact us via Facebook and we'll be in contact with you as soon as we can.
Enjoy the new BlackBerry feature exclusive to Byte Lounge – coming soon!
However, not surprising, despite the huge coverage South Africa has been experiencing during the 19th FIFA World Cup finals being held here, we were not on that launch list.
But fear not, iPhone admirers: Vodacom, the largest network operator in the country, has announced on their website that the iPhone 4 will indeed be coming to our shores in the "coming months". Here's the full text on their iPhone 4 page:
Vodacom is proud to announce we will launch the iPhone 4, the thinnest smartphone in the world with the highest resolution display ever built into a phone, in the coming months."Coming months" can mean anything from next month to the end of the year. However, looking at the history of iPhone releases in South Africa, we can make an educated guess at saying that the iPhone 4 will be available by around September. Remember, though, that Apple has been experiencing manufacturing shortages of the units, and so there may even be a delay in shipping the device to South Africa.
In the expected frenzy that this device is to cause at launch, Vodacom is now allowing you to "register your interest" to get the latest news and info on the release of the device. You can do so here.
It's called "Adapter", and it's made by the same guys who brought us "Pod to Mac/PC". This piece of software allows you to convert virtually any video file format to another video file format. This could come in really handy when wanting to, for example, put videos on your iPod or iPhone, mobile phone, or to play on a specific media player software or hardware (i.e. Apple TV). What's more: Adapter is, as Macroplant (the developers) put, "100% freeware".
Adapter is still in beta, and so bugs are expected at this stage. However, as stated in the opening dialog that greets first-time users of the software, the developers are open to feature requests during this test phase.
However, there weren't many requests that came to my mind when I tried the software, as it's really intuitive and well-designed. Apart from allowing you to convert video to a myriad number of formats, Adapter also allows you to download video from websites, making it a great tool to use for grabbing clips from sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Once downloaded, you can convert the file to a format of your choice, and even send it directly to iTunes for transfer to an iPod, iPhone or iPad.
You can download Adapter from Macroplant here, for free.
[Read the detailed and more comprehensive review on Endgadget]
I've always wondered when the day would come when we'd see a movie adaptation of how the world's greatest and most controversial communication device came to be.
Columbia Pictures is at the helm of this picture, and the way I see it, "The Social Network" (a.k.a. "The Facebook Movie") can go one of two ways: either it adds fuel to the already fuming fire that the site is a bane to the existence of civilization, or it can illuminate the true story and add an emotional "face" to the world's most famous social network.
Here's an official teaser trailer of The Social Network. It's also been confirmed (as reported by Mashable) that Justin Timerlake has been cast in the film. It's expected to release later this year.
[source] Wall Street Journal
Apple’s media-consuming tablet offering, the iPad, has finally released in Apple Authorised dealers in South Africa (unfortunately, we’re not blessed with the elegance of an actual Apple Store here, and have to settle for third-party retail outlets to get our fruity fix). As expected, the growing technology market in this country has been “wowed” by such a remarkable device — and rightly so, seeing as the iPad is set to revolutionise the way we consume digital content.
Already, American publication houses like The New York Times, Wired and MARVEL have created stunning iPad apps to complement their physical print publications, partly in a bid to exploit the iPad’s awesome multitouch interface and larger screen, and partly to save their skins. It’s a kind of “insurance”, if you like — these companies are “securing” themselves for the impending moment when devices like the iPad democratise and completely digitise the print industry to the extent that more people will be reading the news in an interactive format on a slate or tablet device rather than the actual physical paper.
Thus, as South Africans, although our time to consume the news entirely digitally is still some way off into the future, our media companies must not dawdle and fumble, especially in the face of the incredibly successful FIFA World Cup 2010 where this country received a major IT infrastructure overhaul.
The market leaders in South Africa’s print industry — media houses like Media24 and Independent Newspapers — need to invest in developing digitised versions of their content, and must devise innovative pricing schemes so as not to exploit the average news-seeking citizen. Thus significant research into American companies’ experiences could prove to go a long way in making the next generation of newspapers in South Africa truly successful. One clear example is Wired’s iPad app, which integrates audio, video, 3D content and text in interesting, engaging ways. The New York Times’ pricing schemes, devised to as not to discourage their actual, award-winning print publication, entices readers to embrace the digital news revolution whilst still remaining faithful to the dead-tree version.
So take heed, South African media: the time to go digital is here. Secure yourself now, and our country will continue to leap ahead into the next generation of technological advances.
- Kinectimals - similar to Nintendogs, but the animals are oh so cute
- Kinect Sports - soccer, bowling, various track and field games
- Joyride - kart racing, but controller free
- Kinect Adventures - lots of jumping around
- Your Shape: Fitness Evolved - frankly, this fitness game looks amazing, from Ubisoft
- Dance Central - a dance game WITHOUT dance pads, from Harmonix
(Edit: this setup is designed to output video to an external monitor)
On Monday, June 7, CEO Steve Jobs will take to the stage at Moscone West, San Francisco, to deliver the week-long conference's keynote address.
And at that keynote, Mr Jobs is widely expected to announce the next iPhone — what we're calling the iPhone HD.
Here's what you can expect in this next mobile product from everyone's favourite fruity company:
- It'll be called the iPhone HD (iPhone 4G would be too confusing, given the fact that next-generation mobile networks will be called "4G" networks, and this phone won't support that yet).
- It will have a front-facing camera for face-to-face video chats using a mobile version of iChat
- It will certainly be running iPhone OS 4, which means it will have the following new features:
- Run more than one app at the same time with multitasking
- Group homescreen apps in folders according to their genres
- A more informative standby screen
- Hundreds of new APIs that will allow developers to create stunning new app
- The Game Centre, for interaction with fellow iPhone gamers, allowing you to share scores, participate in a leaderboard, and engage in multiplayer battle
- An all-round faster experience
- A more informative standby screen
- A 5 megapixel camera with flash
The iPhone HD (if it ends up being called that) will most likely be released in South Africa not long after WWDC, as was the case last year with the current iPhone 3GS.
What feature are you looking forward to the most? Is there a feature the new iPhone lacks that you feel Apple should include? Drop us a line in the comments below!
Here's a really awesome clip of a project from MIT, called the Flyfire Project. It basically takes any ordinary, mundane living space and transforms it into a fantastical, futuristic sphere of incredible light displays, using a multitude of mini toy-like helicopters with specialized digital lights attached to the rotors.
Now if only we could get these in South Africa, in time for the World Cup parties... a surefire way to impress the guests at home with variations of the playing teams' national flags and LED-like recreations of the players faces... ah, a geek can dream, right?
Nokia today announced a 3-part video series, fronted by product manager for the Finnish mobile giant, that takes a detailed look at their upcoming flagship device, the Nokia N8.
The N8 boasts new-generation software developed by Nokia, titled Symbian 3. This is the pinnacle of the phone maker's hope in re-inventing its product lines. Symbian 3 effectively cleans-up the mess that the previous-gen software powering many of today's Nseries, Eseries, Xseries and other Nokia mobiles.
The first of the three-part series is embedded below, and was flighted on the official Nseries blog earlier today. This is really some exciting stuff coming out of the world's largest phone maker; if Nokia can pull this phone off right, they might just have a chance to redeem themselves in the latest mobile wars being fought between titans Apple and HTC.
What do you think? Will you be considering the N8 as your next phone? Drop a line in the comments and let us know!
South Africa, like many emerging nations, has an economy that is mainly entrepreneur-driven. These small companies are the pieces that fit into the grander scheme of pushing the economy forward.
However, these smaller companies are often on tight budgets, and as such, elaborate software is not the option when arranging the computer setup for a new startup, or refreshing an established business's computing systems.
A major requirement of many small businesses is a comprehensive billing system — a tool that allows a business to issue invoices and payment notification to its customers timely.
A recently launched service, developed entirely by South African programmers and designers, has revolutionised the way local businesses operate.
It's called SnapBill, and, as described on the site, it's a "secure, fast and easy to use billing in a Snap™".
However, one minor feature that Apple has made sure to omit is the ability for users to take songs from their iPods, and import them into their iTunes library.
Of course, we can clearly see the reasoning of this move: opening up the iPod to allow people to browse its innermost contents will enable piracy — the bane of the music industry sine the turn of the century.
But what if you, like me, have a new computer that you wish to transfer your music to? And I don't mean copying your iTunes library over to the new PC or Mac.
Here's the situation that I was in around the time when I got my new MacBook about a year ago. My current library on my old PC wasn't that great; there were a lot of repeated songs, and plus, somehow, my iPod ended up having more songs than the library on my PC, since that library went under quite a few re-sets. Bottom line: I wanted to get all the songs that were on my iPod onto my new Mac.
After searching around Google, I discovered a neat tool called Pod to Mac. There's a Windows version available as well, called, naturally, Pod to PC.
Essentially, Pod to Mac or PC is able to read all the songs on your iPod when it's connected to your computer. You can then either import selected tracks and videos. or the entire contents of your iPod's media content, to your iTunes library.
Pod to Mac or PC is really easy to use. It's got a straightforward interface, and once you check media you want imported into your iTunes library, just leave it to do the work.
One thing, however, is that this app is not free; it's free to try, but you'll have to pay the developers, Macroplant, $19,95 for a single-license.
I managed to get the job done with the freeware version, though. For just a few feature limitations, you can still get the entire contents of your iPod into iTunes.
Get Pod to Mac here.
On Friday, Google changed their logo to what's become one of the biggest procrastination tools recently launched.
The Pac-Man doodle was launched to commemorate 30 years of one of the greatest, most cherished games ever made.
However, this awesome logo will be taken down by this evening, according to Google. So if you'd like to save the game to your PC or Mac, playable at a later time, off-line from within your browser, download the game here.
The major things to know about this latest addition to the App Store is that Twitter for iPhone, unlike its predecessor, is free. It is, essentially, Tweetie2 re-branded, and in fact, the developer of Tweetie has moved over to work at Twitter, developing this app under its new name.
Whilst its completely refreshed in its branding, it must be known from the get-go that this app is still based on Tweetie's core, and so the experience will be very much similar to what was once a paid app. For us Twitter fanatics, this is great news! We're ultimately getting one of the best mobile Twitter apps for absolutely free!
Click through for the full review.
This new site is said to be optimized for South African YouTube users, and as such will allow us South Africans to stream videos much more quickly, get South African-specific video recommendations from the home page, and it all-round improves the Internet experience for South Africans nationwide.
Mweb instigated a revolutionary phase in the South African Internet experience with their uncapped broadband deals, and this new move from Google-owned YouTube means that we're a step closer to that hope of a Silicon Valley-style technology industry in the country. Sure, it's a really small step, but its a move forward nonetheless.
YouTube's live streaming feature was hugely successful during the Indian Premier League earlier this year, even resulting in the site gaining a small bit of viewer-ship and competing with prominent sports channels like ESPN, SuperSport and CNN.
The new YouTube-optimized site for South Africa is: www.youtube.co.za.
With all the hype surrounding the new Nokia N8, here's a video from Nokia introducing this new device that will be running Symbian 3. Enjoy!
But with the rise of social media, we're seeing a renewed interest in the world of awe, with blogs springing up that post exciting news in a format that's accessible to the ordinary, non-scientific person.
And with the launch of STS-132, the last flight of Space Shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station, I'm going to share with you some great blogs, Twitter channels and websites to get your daily dose of awe.
The Daily Galaxy
Tag-lined "your daily does of awe" (yes, that's where I got the phrase from!), this blog posts awe-inspiring pictures, news and opinions on the latest breakthroughs in the scientific world. From shuttle launches to the latest discoveries in string theory, The Daily Galaxy has it covered.
The official NASA Twitter channel, this is my own definitive source of what's happening at the world's largest space organization. Get Tweets about the latest shuttle launches direct from Mission Control, posts from astronauts in space (!) and the latest info about where mankind is headed in the future.
The @Astro Twitter accounts are owned by NASA, and are used by current astronauts who tweet from space. Check out @NASA_Astronauts, a syndication channel of tweets from all NASA astronauts in space. Also, @Astro_Mike, who was the first person to tweet from space.
For the fun of it, check out Fake Science, which posts hilarious explanations of everyday phenomena.
Got a science blog you enjoy following? Share it with us in the comments below!
But we all know that its not the hardware that counts in mobile phones today. The user experience, provided largely by the software operating system that powers today's hand-held computers, is an integral part in choosing your next phone.
Apple managed to get it right with the iPhone. The iPhone OS software has influenced so many other phones, and its development tools have allowed developers to innovate in the mobile sphere, a juncture in the coding world that was once frustrating to write apps for (Sun Microsystem's J2ME, anybody?)
With Nokia's new Symbian 3 operating system, the software that powers the N8, the Finnish company has decided to start afresh. Developers are also in for a treat, as Nokia is propounding the open-source Qt framework and development tools that will enable potential developers for this new platform to design stylish, iPhone-rivalling apps. This means an over-all better experience for us end-users. It also means that a new age of developers will emerge, resulting in another surge of innovation in the mobile space.
Here's a run-down of what you need to know about Symbian 3, the software that will be powering the next generation of Nokia devices.