Microsoft’s Cortana concerns the top of your Android os lock screen

No stranger to new platforms after striking iOS and Android os this past year, Microsoft’s Cortana AI is arriving at another atypical location: the top your Android os phone’s lock display.

Cortana on Android os was updated to permit usage of the Halo-inspired digital associate and its particular function over your smartphone’s lock screen, meaning information such as your routine, reminders, and climate forecast can be taken up in a snap without the need to input an unlock rule or fingerprint scan.

In addition to positioning over the Android os lock display screen, Cortana normally obtaining a slight design tweak to make the solution’s apps and widgets more streamlined on mobile phones.

While Cortana is certainly caused by synonymous with Windows 10 PCs, Android os and iOS devices aren’t the only real branching-out points planned by the Microsoft-powered associate. 

BMW and Nissan both intend on bringing Cortana for their automobiles, supplying drivers with a few digital the assistance of behind the tyre. And also this provides some healthy competition on loves of Apple’s long-standing Siri, Amazon’s ever-growing Alexa, and Samsung’s freshly announced Bixby, destined the soon-to-be-announced Galaxy S8.

HTC Vive Tracker is the answer to new types of game play and multiplayer VR

Modify: The Vive Tracker can be obtained for designers to buy starting today, March 27, on Vive’s web site. A complete customer release is expected later inside year. 

Browse around you household. Just what can you see? You may have a broom within the kitchen area or even a baseball bat inside garage. You might have a hose exterior or perhaps a doll weapon in the wardrobe. 

All of these things, and literally anything else, might be your next HTC Vive controller – all as a result of a brand new unit from HTC called the Vive Tracker.

These devices ended up being revealed at a personal HTC event at CES 2017 alongside the brand new Vive Deluxe Audio, a headband that gives similar functionality to Oculus Rift’s earpads, and also the news that TPCAST, the product that allows tetherless gameplay, is making China and coming to the remainder world in 2017. 

It’s well worth mentioning those services and products because, let’s face it, they’re brand new and novel. But both pale when compared with just what HTC offers with all the Vive Tracker.

After talking to a half-dozen designers, the most effective comparison for the Tracker is definitely an extra game console controller. On it’s own, it adds small to nothing to your setup. But get a buddy involved – or, in cases like this, put in a new item – plus it’s another pastime.

Definitely, it’s not totally all your responsibility which object comes into VR with you. Designers have a big say inside matter. 

The truth is, it is up to them to produce the digital environment that makes sense – a baseball arena if you are playing a baseball game having a real bat or an alien world if your playing a shooting game occur space. And things become slightly more convoluted whenever you make, state, a first-person shooter which requires not just a gun controller, however a Bluetooth one at that. 

There are a few clear limits towards Tracker, there’s without doubt about it. But what it guarantees is just a completely new globe for developers to play around with: the true one.  

A whole new world

The Tracker bears a solid resemblance to the ends associated with the HTC Vive’s motion controller. 

Little divots line the 10cm-in-diameter band, while a universal mount sits on the other hand. The divots enable the Vive’s sensor array to trace where in fact the item is within the room as the universal mount enables you to attach the sensor up to a tripod or, more artistically, a selfie stick. 

On HTC occasion, the sensor ended up being installed to a wide range of apparently mundane objects which were all linked in one method or any other to a Computer. But appearances are misleading. These weren’t misplaced household items which needed to be filed away in a cabinet – they certainly were all controllers used by genuine games. 

There is a baseball game that felt more practical as you were holding a bat, a Bluetooth-enabled (and quite heavy) fire hose that’s likely to be always teach firefighters and a digital camera became something regularly report alien types. 

This is just what HTC had in your mind with regards to developed the Tracker – limitless possible to make whatever product you would like into a controller. 

Whenever worlds collide

Just how does it work? Used, extraordinarily well. 

1st game we tried had been a regional multiplayer shooter, the first of its sort regarding the HTC Vive. It’s being developed by a little indie design studio called Master of Shapes and gives you and up to five friends shoot incoming crooks for a desert earth. 

Each individual joining the game was presented with a Bluetooth weapon controller and a smartphone. What made the game interesting is the fact that Lighthouse sensors from Vive found in which the Trackers were instantly and rendered the firearms of those players in-game. It would’ve been good for every player to have been offered their own avatar, but hey, we’re simply starting out.

The next game we examined actually doubled as training device for firefighters. The demo used an actual, truthful firehose that were retrofitted with haptic feedback sensors plus Vive Tracker. Pull the grip and also the controller would in fact push against your supply, helping it paint an even more practical portrait of what it’d be like to try and hold a firehose whilst it’s on. 

Inside the headset, we had been in an area filling with smoke from the small electrical fire that erupted from an oven. Prior to the Tracker, potential firefighters would’ve utilized the typical HTC Vive controllers to place out of the flame. But controllers are nothing like the real-world gear they have to utilize everyday – an issue that just the Vive Tracker can solve.

The last game we checked out was a baseball simulator that included a hefty wood bat by having a Tracker attached to the butt-end. Employing A wood bat as opposed to a lightweight synthetic controller completely changed the knowledge of playing a recreations game in VR. 

Even though baseball ended up being the actual only real activities name on display at the occasion, there’s next to nothing stopping somebody from placing trackers on tennis rackets, hockey sticks and clubs – allowing another generation of activities games.

You can now watch 4K content on a PS4 Pro, no Blu-ray disc required

When Sony unveiled its ultra-powerful new console, the PS4 Pro, we were ecstatic. It promised to bring 4K gaming and HDR video content to the best-selling HD console on the market. Only, it had a single snafu: all that content couldn’t come from a 4K Blu-ray disc because the PS4 Pro doesn’t support it.

While Sony’s PS4 Pro still isn’t able to play UHD movies via its disc drive, a new update will bring 4K video playback functionality to the system’s media player. 

The announcement was made today on the PlayStation Blog, which also noted some requirements for playback. First, you’ll need to make sure the 4K video you’re trying to watch is an MP4. Second, you can either load the 4K content onto a USB stick, or stream it from a media server somewhere in your house. 

Now, for anyone who owns both a PS4 Pro and a PlayStation VR, you’ll now be able to watch 360-degree content in the ultra-high resolution format as well. 

The update will roll out to systems later in the day, meaning now’s a good time to start loading those preposterously large files onto USB sticks.

Of course, you could always just stream 4K UHD shows from Netflix and YouTube and save yourself a lot of trouble…

Download of the day: Firefox Test Pilot

Firefox Test Pilot

Everybody loves Firefox, but many of us still have little niggles and wish-lists of features we’d like to see. Sometimes we wonder, wouldn’t it be great if we could travel into the future, find out what Firefox can do then, and bring the future Firefox back so we can enjoy its future features right now?

That’s what Firefox Test Pilot does, and unlike traditional forms of time travel you don’t need to think about killing Hitler, bumping into Bruce Willis or accidentally kissing your mum. It’s available for Firefox on Windows, Linux and OS X.

Why you need it

You need it because the future is a better place, and because Firefox needs people to test its latest, greatest features before they end up in the final builds.

At the time of writing that means experimenting with features to take better screenshots, to keep videos on screen while you keep browsing the web, to prevent ad networks from following you around the place and even the end of dreaded 404 Page Not Found errors. All you need to do is download the Test Pilot add-on, get in a DeLorean and… no, you just need the add-on.

Download here: Firefox Test Pilot

Surface Book 2 might be a no-show at Microsoft’s next hardware launch

The latest rumor about Microsoft’s spring device announcement event is that it won’t feature one of the main expected revelations: the Surface Book 2.

That’s what ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley (a renowned Microsoft tipster) has heard from her sources, anyway. Surface Book 2 won’t be happening at the spring shindig, as the sequel to the high-end convertible simply isn’t ready yet. And it’s uncertain whether the Surface Pro 5 will be revealed either.

Although it sounds like Foley is unsure on the SP5 simply because she hasn’t heard anything regarding the hybrid’s appearance, as opposed to actively hearing sources talk about it not being unveiled, as with the Surface Book 2.

But the grapevine insists that there will definitely be a spring hardware launch, which begs the question – what exactly will be launched?

Foley reckons we might see an entirely new Surface device to follow up last fall’s Surface Studio, and that it could possibly be related to previous chatter from DigiTimes about a clamshell "Surface Book" laptop (although do note that this particular source is generally best taken with a healthy pinch of salt).

Hybrid cloud

The idea of such a notebook would presumably be to pitch it considerably cheaper than the pricey existing Surface Book, and that would tie in with Foley’s suggestion that the new device could be a ‘Cloud Book’ running the cut-down Windows 10 Cloud operating system which was much talked about a couple of months ago.

This reportedly won’t be an actual cloud-based operating system like Chrome OS, but rather it’ll be a lightweight version of Windows 10 which will only run universal apps from the Windows Store – although it could still be pitched against Chromebooks.

All this is speculation at the moment, naturally, and the price point of the rumored clamshell laptop would be a critical factor, particularly when considering how it would stack up to Google’s cloudy notebooks.

As ever, time will tell what hardware Microsoft has up its sleeve to go with the launch of the big Creators Update next month, but there will definitely be some folks disappointed not to see a sequel to the Surface Book. The Performance Base variant will have to do for now, it seems.

Perhaps Microsoft feels that the Surface Pro 5 will carry enough weight on its own, and this will be its sole major revelation on the hardware front. If neither that nor the Surface Book 2 are revealed, that’ll be a major upset for the rumor mill, as both next-gen hybrids have been expected to be unleashed this spring for quite some time now.

PS4 Pro Slim: 6 things we’d like to see

It feels like the PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro have only just been released, but in a manner similar to the pregnancy rumors that inevitably seem to stick to celebrity power couples, we’re already hearing that Sony could be planning to release a PS4 Pro Slim. 

WCCFtech has unearthed a recent report in the Taiwanese newspaper Digitimes which has said that Sony is planning to release a slimmer version of its PlayStation 4 console in order to target the holiday sales period. The report doesn’t actually say whether this console will simply be an even slimmer version of the already existing PS4 Slim or whether it will be a smaller version of the PS4 Pro. The latter scenario does, however, seem significantly more likely if the rumors are to be believed.

A slimmed down version of the PS4 Pro for release during the holiday period would make a lot of sense. Come Christmas, the original PS4 Pro will be a year old so a new look with, perhaps, some improved or additional functionalities would be ideal to reignite consumer interest. 

A chance to keep up

Not only that, it’ll be around the time Microsoft is planning to release Project Scorpio. From what we know so far, Project Scorpio is going to be one impressive piece of kit and Sony can’t reasonably expect to go head to head with this machine during the peak buying period with a year-old console and expect to come out on top. 

When the PS4 Slim was released, it was really more of a revamp of the original PS4 in terms of specs. Not much really changed it was just the chance to upgrade to a slightly more attractive and smaller console.

Though a PS4 Pro Slim could be exactly the same scenario – think slimming to Pro down into a smaller chassis – it would also be a good opportunity for Sony to do a little more, to introduce some interesting new functionalities to its Pro console that would make it more competitive against Microsoft’s Project Scorpio.

Now that we’ve sufficiently justified it (at least we think so), here are the five things we’d like to see from the PS4 Pro Slim if it’s announced.

A new look

Okay, a new look would obviously be part of a slimmer version of a console. It’s the entire point. The risk with slimming down the PS4 Pro is that you could easily just end up with the original PS4 or a console that’s almost identical to the PS4 Slim. 

We’d love to see the PS4 Pro Slim take on the more curved and compact look of the PS4 Slim, without looking like a trio of stacked pizza boxes. We’d also like to see a return to the matte and glossy casing combination that the original PS4 had. The glossy side was, admittedly a bit of a nightmare when it came to attracting fingerprints, but it was much more visually exciting than the entirely matte look that the Pro and Slim iterations have.

Aside from an overall shape change, we’d also like to see an improvement made to the console’s buttons. This might be a bit of a personal bugbear, but we think the design of the power and eject disc buttons on the current PS4 Pro are a step backwards from both the original PS4's capacitive touch buttons, and the PS4 Slim's standard physical buttons.

The PS4 Pro uses a single plastic strip across both buttons, that 'give' a little at either end where they are pressed in. Push too close to the center and the pushes won't register, while going too far to the edge and it feels like they could snap.

Of all three button methods, it's the standard buttons the PS4 Slim that seem most reliable, so we'd like to see them return for any eventual PS4 Pro Slim.

Ultra HD Blu-ray player 

You still have a chance here, Sony! The company has received a fair amount of criticism for providing 4K media purely via streaming and it’s easy to understand why; 4K streaming requires a much stronger and faster internet connection than many people currently have access to. 

Microsoft, on the other hand, has included an Ultra HD Blu-ray player in both its Xbox One S and (we expect) in the upcoming Project Scorpio consoles in addition to the ability to stream 4K content. Though 4K Blu-rays aren’t exactly a widespread format at the moment, Microsoft has at least given its customers a choice. 

Many who were torn between purchasing a PlayStation 4 and an Xbox One S said that latter’s Ultra HD Blu-ray player swayed their decision when it came to settling on a console. Of course, we don’t know how accurate this is and how much, if at all, it impacted the PlayStation’s sales.

Regardless, Sony may think that streaming is the future but it’s selling consoles in the present and in the present, consumers apparently want access to an Ultra HD Blu-ray player that doesn’t cost the Earth. Releasing a slim version of the PS4 Pro would be an ideal opportunity for Sony to add this feature.

Dolby Atmos support for games 

This isn’t absolutely essential, but introducing Dolby Atmos support for games would be a nice addition to the PS4 Pro Slim and really add to the 4K HDR visuals it offers. 

At the moment, the Xbox Insiders are able to access Dolby Atmos sound when watching Ultra HD Blu-rays on their consoles. There are rumors circulating that this support will soon extend to games, making the Xbox a full Dolby Atmos experience. 

It’d be sensible, then, for Sony to begin introducing this to PlayStation in order to be able to claim that it offers similarly immersive gaming experiences. 

An extra HDMI port  

Ok, now we’re getting into really nerdy AV territory, but it would be absolutely great if we could get a second HDMI port on our new gaming behemoth.

A second HDMI port has become a handy feature on more high-end Ultra HD Blu-ray players, as it allows you to send your audio and video out to separate machines.

This is very helpful if you’ve got a home cinema amplifier that deal with your television’s audio. Rather than having to worry about whether this amp can handle 4K/HDR content, a second HDMI output allows you to avoid the problem by bypassing it entirely and plugging straight into your TV.

Now yes, we know only a fraction of Sony’s potential audience will want such a feature, but if it wants to win over the high-end TV enthusiasts amongst us then it's a must-have.

Built-in PSVR support

We understand that the PlayStation VR required the additional processing unit for a few reasons including object-based 3D audio processing and un-distorted social screen display but it's still an unwelcome presence on our TV stand. 

Ideally, for neatness' sake, everything would be going through the one system so it'd be great to see built-in support for PSVR in the PS4 Pro Slim. Not only would it keep our living rooms neat and tidy, it'd centralize PSVR as an essential part of the PlayStation experience and send a strong message from Sony that VR is here to stay on PlayStation and has the company's full support and attention.

Bigger hard drive

Though we now have external hard drive support in addition to changeable internal hard drives and we’re extremely happy about it, we’d love to see a bigger internal hard drive in the PS4 Pro Slim from the off. We’re not asking for much – 2TB would be more than enough to keep us and our console’s storage notifications quiet, at least for a while. 

Intel Optane Memory looks to give traditional hard drives a serious speed boost

Hard drives are getting a much deserved kick in the pants with Intel’s new Optane Memory.

The processor maker claims its newest technology will give old-school spinning drives solid-state drive-like (SSD) speeds today and eventually transform computer storage forever. 

Intel Optane Memory might sound like RAM, but it’s actually a specialized storage product that hooks up to the M.2 storage slot (PCIe Gen 3.0×2) on a PC motherboard. You’ll find them on the latest motherboards designed for Intel’s latest 7th generation, or Kaby Lake, processors and the 200 series Intel chipset.

The connected storage drive endows you with 16GB or 32GB of Optane Memory for blazing fast cache.

Cache that can make, say, your 1TB, 7,200 rpm spinning hard drive twice as responsive in performing daily tasks and booting up or launch your browser up to five times faster. Oh, and how about 67% and 65% reductions in game app launch and game level load times, respectively?

These are the initial figures that Intel promises are possible out of a seemingly old hat, spinning hard drive when boosted by its Intel Optane Memory cache module. So, what’s the secret?

  • While we wait, consider shelling out for the MacBook Pro

Better materials, smarter storage

Intel’s answer to that is twofold. First off, Optane Memory is built differently than traditional NAND-based storage cells used in SSDs, instead crafted using 3DXpoint. Pronounced “3D crosspoint,” this is a different kind of proprietary storage media, built using materials (the identity of which Intel is keeping to itself) in a three-dimensional pattern similar to how a processor is built – sort of like a s’more.

However, a computer’s processor can only access data as fast as the storage medium can deliver it, which depends both on how quickly it can recall the data in its stores and how quickly data transfers over connectors, usually SATA (off-motherboard) or PCIe (on-board) these days.

This is why RAM, or random access memory, was developed decades ago to store frequently used data. However, RAM is expensive to build at high capacities, and thus isn’t a realistic way to store all of a PC’s data.

“We want something that brings that data much closer to the processor,” Intel Senior Fellow Al Fazio told a room of journalists when debuting the technology. “We need something that’s closer and faster to provide data to the processor.”

The crosspoint is the smallest and densest silicon structure that you can construct lithographically and can switch 1,000 times faster than NAND flash, according to Fazio, because of the proximity. The physics of the data delivery have been changed.

Not only, as Fazio tells it, does this make it 1,000 times faster than NAND, but it provides 1,000 times better endurance than NAND and 10 times the density of conventional memory.

This technology also operates at sub-microsecond speeds, Fazio said, compared to microsecond speeds of other storage and memory. The idea is to get the capacity of NAND and the speed of RAM or better in a non-volatile solution.

The second piece of how Optane Memory boosts your existing storage drive is in the product’s intelligence. A small processor inside the M.2 memory module runs Intel Rapid Storage Technology, firmware that allows the module to detect which apps and services you use most over time, prioritizing the files associated with those apps into its 16GB or 32GB cache.

This, in turn, serves up those apps and services much faster than if their files would have to be called from the storage drive proper and then placed into RAM. The result is faster boot times, app start times, in-app data loads and generally improved responsiveness in your most-used apps.

Now, while Optane Memory can reach higher capacities than RAM for cheaper, it’s not quite at the point of replacing either your RAM or your hard drive or SSD. This product is architected as a memory, not a storage device. In short, you cannot dual boot an Intel Optane Memory module – sorry, savvy users.

The fine print

Now, mind that, in order to improve the speed of functions like boot time and improved responsiveness in system services, a certain amount of the Optane Memory module’s cache is reserved for these system process files. Exactly how much, Intel won’t say.

Also, again, the Intel Optane Memory module only operates with motherboards that support both 7th generation Intel processors and Intel’s 200 series chipset. So, if you can’t spruce up your old hard drive with that 6th generation or older Intel chip and dated motherboard, who is this for?

For one, those looking to upgrade their PCs with gobs of storage that’s also fast could look to this as a more affordable route to that kind of PC build. After all, a 2TB spinning hard drive calls for a fraction of the cost of an equally capacious SSD.

To that end, Intel has worked with partners to ensure that over 130 of such supported motherboards are available right now.

We’re also told that Intel is already working with key desktop PC producers to include the option for Intel Optane memory modules in models that generally offer large amounts of spinning storage. So, otherwise hapless PC purchasers will effectively enjoy the speed of an SSD for the cost of a PC with an old hat spinning drive inside, thanks to an Optane Memory module.

Since Intel first revealed its Optane storage technology way back in 2015, we’ve dreamt of a world free of distinctions like “storage” and “RAM”. While that reality is still a ways off, Intel’s new Optane Memory module finally begins to blur those lines today.

Optane Memory looks to set the computing world on fire when it launches for desktop PCs on April 24 . In the US, Optane Memory will cost $44 for 16GB while 32GB will call for $77. We're awaiting comment from Intel on pricing and availability in the UK and Australia, and will update this space with whatever information we receive. 

For more of Intel’s data on how an Optane Memory PC compares to systems without it, check out Intel’s website.

Where to pre-order the LG G6 in the US – carrier prices and promotions compared

With the exception of T-Mobile, all the national US carriers have started pre-orders for the LG G6. On the side of retailers, only Best Buy has carrier versions of the smartphone up for pre-order (click here), but the LG G6 will be sold by LG, Amazon, and B&H as well. We’ll have to whip up a separate table with the retailer offers once they are revealed.
Carrier prices vary across the board, with Verizon and US Cellular seemingly presenting the most compelling offers. T-Mobile has set up a lean, no-frills offer devoid of promotions beyond the free …

Where to pre-order the LG G6 in the US – carrier prices and promotions compared

With the exception of T-Mobile, all the national US carriers have started pre-orders for the LG G6. On the side of retailers, only Best Buy has carrier versions of the smartphone up for pre-order (click here), but the LG G6 will be sold by LG, Amazon, and B&H as well. We’ll have to whip up a separate table with the retailer offers once they are revealed.
Carrier prices vary across the board, with Verizon and US Cellular seemingly presenting the most compelling offers. T-Mobile has set up a lean, no-frills offer devoid of promotions beyond the free Google Home speaker that everyone is getting. Meanwhile, AT&T and Sprint have some interesting options as well, despite being on the pricier side. Hopefully, having good credit and being a long-time (or brand new) customer will net you better offers from these two. As always, read the fine print and spend responsibly.
Carrier Price in full Price per month Release date Promotions Link
Verizon $672 $28
(24 months)
March 30
  • Free Google Home
  • Up to $200 trade-in credit
  • Free 43-inch LG HDTV
Click here
AT&T $719 $24 (30 mo.)
$30 (24 mo.)
April 4 – 6
(Tu – Th)
  • Free Google Home
  • LG Watch Sport for $49
  • Buy 1, Get 1 Free offer
Click here
T-Mobile $650 $26
(24 months)
TBA Click here
Sprint $708 $29.50
(24 months)
April 7
  • Free Google Home
  • Free 49-inch LG HDTV
Click here
US Cellular $597.60 $10 (30 mo.)
*with Promo card*
April 7
  • Free Google Home
  • $297.70 Promotional card
Click here
If you are still undecided about the LG G6, or only recently heard about it, feel free to check out the materials below and make an informed choice. There’s a lot to like about the LG G6, but the competition doesn’t sleep and the Samsung Galaxy S8 is right around the corner.

Pre-order LG G6 from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Best Buy

BBM for Android receives an update to version

If you’re an Android user who uses the BBM messaging app, you might notice some new features next time you run it. An update to version, found in the Google Play Store, includes new icons for for BBM Voice and Video calling. BBM Groups and group management features are now melded into the Chat screen,  and all chat conversations will now be found in one place.

The complete changelist for the update to BBM for Android includes the following:

  • Infrastructure features to reduce spam invites
  • Updated icons for BBM Voice and Video calling
  • Improved quick reply notification support for Android “N”
  • Performance improvements and bug reports
  • Introduced Me and Discover screen into the main navigation menu
  • Combined BBM Groups and group management features into the Chat screen. All chat conversations are in a single place now.

The new “Me” display section is where you will find BBM Settings, BBM Channel and BBM Profile.

If you are already a BBM for Android subscriber, go to the Google Play Store app and open it. Navigate to the hamburger menu in the top left and click. Tap on My apps & games, scroll to BBM for Android, and click on update. If you’re not a subscriber to BBM for Android, open the Google Play Store and install the app. And that is all that you need to do.

BBM continues to become more secure, and with free voice and video calling, you can see why many have kept using BBM even after leaving BlackBerry for an iOS or Android handset.

Download and install BBM for Android (3.31.24) or iOS by clicking on the appropriate link (Android|iOS)

source: Crackberry