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“Okay, Google” Looks to Make Downloading Apps Obsolete With Newest Venture

There’s an App For That

We all know how it works, and we’ve all done it. In the recent past, we are with our friends, families, or coworkers and one person will note this cool new app they’ve downloaded. They tell you how easy it makes accomplishing whatever task they set out to do, and highly recommend you download it. That is the critical word in all of these conversations we have had in the past: Download. In order to interact with an app, its features and options, we have needed to download it to our respective mobile devices. Google is looking to change this, streamlining the process to alleviate your download woes.

“Okay, Google”…

I’ve used this phrase countless times with my Android smartphone. Setting timers, alarms, or settling an inane argument with friends. However, “Okay Google” is destined to become something even more. Google is looking to acquire apps that would be willing to participate in an experimental project where they allow Google to stream their apps through an Okay Google command. This means that instead of finding the best restaurant reservation app on the App store and downloading it to your phone, you will be presented with a multitude of options on how to reserve restaurants; and can then interact with these apps without ever having to download their software.

Always Listening…

This idea, although in its fledgling stages, shows potential to change the dichotomy of the apps economy and shift the paradigm of success for app developers. Presenting users with the ability to peruse every app that offers (for example) restaurant reservation systems and use them without navigating to a native app screen promises to challenge developers to distinguish themselves from the competition. If this experiment becomes a reality, app quality will increase and those apps that do not meet standards will fall to the bottom of the “Okay, Google” results page into irrelevancy.

This centralization of information will allow Google to better understand its users’ behaviors and tailor advertisements to these more well-defined personas. As this app integration becomes more widespread, we can expect the ads to follow. Being inundated with paid app advertisements is something we are used to and something that looks to continue as the mobile world advances.

This new experiment is a glimpse into how we might be interacting with our apps (or lack thereof) on our mobile devices. I, for one, welcome the idea of being able to use any app I want at any time without having to download each one. Okay, Google. Let’s see what you’ve got.

Keep this conversation going here.


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Microsoft Reveals New Facial-Expression Reading Technology


At a conference in London this past week, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella discussed a new kind of technology that Microsoft is working on.

This technology, which has not yet gained a name, is said to read human facial features. Now, this is not necessarily new technology as Snapchat has begun configuring facial-recognizing features in their latest updates. This update however, allows individuals to mask their face in an interactive way; if you open your mouth on the ‘Ghostrider’ section, blue fire comes out of your mouth, and so on. However, what Microsoft is discussing is something that reaches a new level.

Microsoft, unlike Snapchat, has suggested they have successfully coded a computer to not only recognize facial features, but to read emotions that are visible when making facial expressions. The example used by many sources is a surprise; the newest Microsoft technology will read your eyes, mouth, eyebrows, and other features to distinguish between different expressions.

Don’t misunderstand this information; this technology hasn’t made it past the initial stages of testing. However, this sort of news is worth keeping an eye on.

Is this something that you would want running on your computer or phone? Be sure to comment in the forum thread!

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A Glance At the Past Month with Microsoft


In the last month, we’ve seen Microsoft release a number of innovative products and technology that will change Windows users’ experience considerably.

For hardware, Microsoft has introduced a number of new and exciting products. Once Windows 10 was rolled out, Microsoft redirected attention back to the Microsoft Hololens which was discussed in a previous blog post. Additionally, Microsoft also introduced the Surface Book, which is rumored to be faster and sleeker than previous Microsoft surface models. The Surface Book is also considerably more impressive than products from rivaling companies.

Microsoft has also introduced a number of innovative software solutions. The much anticipated Windows 10 release became available at the beginning of the summer, but the updates are slowly making their way around the globe. Other notable software introduced was the prediction and autocomplete software for animation and graphic design. With so much great technology coming out this past month, I can’t imagine what Microsoft has up its sleeve for the coming months.

Have you heard rumors of new Microsoft tech? Have you had first hand experience with any of the new technology? Let us know in the Microsoft forum!

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Has Connectivity Finally Disconnected Us?

How often have you heard your parents or someone say “You’ve always got your head in your phone”, or “Look up and join the world”. For me, quite a lot. These reminders really settled in the Digital image. Web. 15 Oct 2015. (3)other day when I stumbled on this great blog post emphasizing how addicted society is to technology. Photographer Eric Pickersgill removed mobile devices from everyday portraits, and the leftover images are a mixture of funny, awkward, and even sad.

My first emotional reaction to this montage is that of disappointment. There are some pure moments captured here where the human interaction has been replaced.

Love, fun, and bonding, deconstructed by distraction.quotations

Even worse, we make an exerted effort to communicate and establish a connection with someone elsewhere on their device. The fixated expressions says it all, maybe we do want to be elsewhere.

Now let’s hit the brakes for a second, as we have all seen these trends. After all, we are always bumping into distracted people, and rarely enter a room where everyone has their hands free. I would like to address the other side to this conversation, and highlight a few examples of how our hyper-Digital image. Web. 15 Oct 2015. (2)connected world isn’t always this big, scary monster.

First, let’s discuss how tech innovation has helped bridge generational gaps (sometimes). One example is my wonderful grandfather. Going strong at 85,  he has been active in our family’s fantasy football league for several years now. His ipad caters to his disability challenges, and the online league helps to keep him engaged, competitive, and included in group conversation. And what about from a careerist perspective? We can prove our job qualifications online, network, and discover new employment opportunities all without going door to door. Lastly, socializing online doesn’t have to always be treated as something bad. Friends can stay in touch abroad, gamers can achieve milestones to be proud of, and people can use crowd sourcing outlets to help build in-person events.

These pictures show a disengaged side of otherwise sentimental moments. And overall, there are no replacements to relationships fostered and maintained person-to-person. We need to work on this, and let’s not forget that it’s not all bad. I would love to see a devices-removed montage of someone Skyping their spouse at war, landing an interview from LinkedIn, or FaceTiming friends who just won the championship of their favorite game.

How do these images make you feel? What times of day do you prefer to disconnect?

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Microsoft Releases Autocomplete for Animation



If you’re at all interested in drawing, designing, or graphics then Microsoft just changed your virtual designing world. Four days ago, Microsoft introduced Autocomplete for Animation. Yes, that’s right, you can now fill in all of those pesky lines or dots instead of manually running over them.

As artists know, taking the time to fill in lines or details manually can be redundant and time consuming- especially if it’s the same shape repeated throughout a specific area. Microsoft decided to sidestep that process, and with this autocomplete feature, you can now autofill those areas. However, this isn’t the best part of the new release. Autocomplete adjusts it’s predictions in real time. This means that as you draw, and as you change shapes or colors, autocomplete will adjust accordingly.

If you’re a graphic designer, how do you think this will change your online experience? Let us know by submitting a comment below or by answering our forum poll.

Check back next week for an interview regarding this technology from our in-house web designers Drew and Gabe.

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Microsoft Unveils the Surface Book

On October 6, 2015, Microsoft announced the unveiling of it’s first Microsoft-specific laptop; the Surface Book.

While this looks like just an ultra-thin laptop, Microsoft made one alteration that other major tech companies have yet to pull, enabling a detachable screen. Upon initial research, the differences between a Surface paired with a keyboard, and the Surface Book aren’t particularly clear. However, as you delve deeper into the tech specs of each device, the differences between the two become clearer.Untitled design (6)

The Surface Book, unlike it’s other counterparts the Surface and Surface Pro, is said to be twice as fast as the 12-inch Macbook Pro. This model will include a discrete GPU, a touch screen display, as well as an edge to edge glass screen with a trackpad and keyboard. Microsoft also included backlighting and a battery that lasts up to 12 hours.

Needless to say, Microsoft is bringing us a laptop that goes the extra mile, taking away the need for a laptop and a tablet.

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Microsoft HoloLens – An Idea That Makes Us See The World Differently

This week, as part of our weekly Microsoft series we present to you our guest blogger, Andreas Sofogiannis, who discusses Microsoft’s latest invention in the works, the HoloLens. Here is more from Andreas about the Hololens and the vision behind it:

For decades, technology has made our everyday life easier and more convenient. But what if I told you that in few years you will use your voice insteadhololense goggles of your keyboard? That your own finger will substitute your mouse? Is our future about to change? The answer is yes, and Microsoft will be the one to streamline that by creating Microsoft HoloLens.

Microsoft’s HoloLens is the new generation of holographic computers, designed to interact with your world by creating a virtual reality in front of your eyes. This “smart-glasses” device was announced by Microsoft on January 21st 2015.

Imagine the experience of getting your work done in front of your eyes like checking your email, Skyping with other users, constructing a 3D building, or even playing games. As for the place, it will be your room, your office, everywhere you want, at any time you want.

Microsoft Hololens is using a gesture mechanism, which selects objects that you look towards. Then, you just tap your finger to get the results. However, only the wearer is capable of seeing these 3D holographs, so don’t worry, your content is safe.

hololense kitchenThere are multiple applications that have already been announced and worked perfectly with the environment. It can be anything you can think of. Such examples could be an application that creates the model you want designed by your finger and to be sent to a 3D printing to make it real, an app that can design your construction in a 3D environment, or an app you can explore the surface of Mars as if you were walking on it.

The headband is designed for the best performance, with great weight and comfortable fit. You can use it without a connection to a camera, PC or any device. In turn, the user is able to move freely on any area or in any room they want.

hololense at workIn order to understand the value of this device, we need to understand first that Microsoft’s HoloLens is not a device like Google Glass or Oculus Rift. It is a significantly different experience from that. You adjust your environment with the objects you want- even giving life to your wall! This could change the aspect and the whole idea of gaming and creation.

We are not sure when Microsoft HoloLens will be available for the public, but the good news is that in the first quarter of 2016, the device will be available for developers. It will give the opportunity for many developers and companies to see the value of the device and can adapt their technologies to Microsoft HoloLens.

With all of this in mind, we can confidently say that we are on the brink of the new era of holographic computing, and Microsoft clearly leads the way. What do you think about Microsoft HoloLens? What do you imagine it changing about day-to-day life?

You can check more about the Microsoft HoloLens by visiting the official site of Microsoft

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What does having a Universal Platform Mean for Windows 10?

Microsoft finally has decided to unify criteria and have created a universal platform with Windows 10.UP

The new OS version is adapted depending on the device that is running; a PC, a smartphone, a tablet or an XBox.This is a big step for the software giant and of course, it is seen as a big advantage for users and developers alike.

On one hand, users have the same applications on any device as there is a common application store. That’s a big advantage for users because we can use and synchronize all applications on all devices, all interconnected devices without compatibility problems. Furthermore, this can facilitate our lives in many ways. For example, changes we make in one file that we have synchronized will be displayed on any device, with the latest version available. Applications that allow interaction with all devices simultaneously is a huge resources for users!

This is also, of course, a major step up for developers. To create an application that works on any device with the installed platform reduces costs, as software developers do not have to create the same application for four different devices.

With the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft will pit its own technology ecosystem against fierce competition that is suffering with Google and Apple.

Perhaps with these changes, Microsoft may be able to hike it’s Windows phone sales and rise to the challenge that Google and Apple present.

Special thanks to guest blogger Moises Pujadas for this week’s post!

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iOS 9 is Here, But Is It Worth It?

Crisper temperatures…the start of the school year…the changing colors of the leaves…the return of football…apple picking…all of these conjure up images and feelings that come with the transition out of summer and into fall.  However, there’s one other annual event that you can almost certainly set your autumnal calendar to: Apple’s latest full iOS release.

The guios 9ys in Cupertino pushed out the latest (and greatest?) version of their mobile operating system to the public on Wednesday.  Although the beta version has been in limited distribution for several months now, this will be most people’s first opportunity to check out what Apple has in store for us iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch wielders, not just for now, but in the months and even years ahead.

Like all Dot 0 releases (7.0, 8.0, 9.0, etc), the September release of iOS always comes with a little extra anticipation and fanfare.  Rather than focusing on bug fixes or performance tweaks, Apple uses this release as an opportunity to push its really big, sometimes even groundbreaking features and enhancements to iOS.  We all remember the launch of Siri with iOS 4.0 or the integration of iCloud with iOS 5.0.  Those of us who do any extensive amount of traveling will surely recall using the Passbook version of our boarding passes with the launch of iOS 6.0.

But is iOS 9.0 all it’s cracked up to be and is it worth your time and effort to upgrade?  Here are the top five new features and benefits that I’m looking forward to with the launch of iOS 9.0:


  1. Improved Battery Life

Go ahead, call me boring, but this is what I’m looking forward to the most in iOS 9.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a happy and loyal iPhone user, but the battery life just stinks, plain and simple.  Depending on what type of app I have running, I rarely can get through a full day without having to charge it at least some.  Chalk that up to my streaming music addiction, but this is an area in which I feel Apple is lagging behind its Android counterparts.

Thankfully, iOS 9 is said to include under the hood improvements that claim to increase overall battery life by an hour.  It also comes with a new “Low Power Mode” feature.  Apparently, turning this on could potentially “increase battery life by up to three hours.”  That type of added juice is more than welcome when you’re out and about without access to a power outlet or portable battery pack.

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Don’t Be Scared, The Internet of Things Isn’t Going Away

It probably doesn’t augur well for the inevitability of the connected world that the father of the Internet says he is network-782707_1280terrified by the potential downsides of combining appliances and software.

Speaking at a recent news briefing before a meeting of computer experts at the 3rd Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany, Vint Cerf admitted that he is always nervous about software because “software has bugs.” Cerf, Google’s chief evangelist and winner of the Turing Award in 2004, went on to say that the Internet of Things had the capacity to be an important tool in managing a lifestyle, but it was “fraught with issues…some technical and some legislative.” Continue Reading →

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Augmented Reality Offers Glimpse of Future

New technologies are often built upon the successes and ideas that have come before them. Always building off and taking advantage of previous technology, development and advancement becomes an iterative process. Leap Motion has taken this process to heart recently, using a Hackathon in San Francisco to augment the Oculus Rift and turn it into an Augmented Reality machine that works in tandem with a traditional computer. The technology looks incredible, and although it is simply a tech demo at the moment, Leap Motion’s work is offering a preview of the future of interactive technology.

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Smartphone Trends: Bigger is Better


Over the course of the past 8 years, we have seen the modern smartphone evolve rapidly. Growing thinner, more powerful, and better looking, the smartphone market has become extremely fragmented and diverse. This is one of the many reasons why software testing across a multitude of devices has become so important to the commercial and critical success of mobile apps. With diversity of devices comes the need to test apps on every device. However, there is one trend that seems to be driving the market for smartphones. Over the past 8 years, phones are getting bigger. Or, more aptly, screens are getting bigger. Much bigger. Continue Reading →

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