Archive for the ‘Internet’ category

Chrome to Phone

September 8th, 2010

With the latest version of the Google Android mobile operating system comes privileged access to new features available within. Froyo, or version 2.2, is the anticipated update for all android handsets that brings a wealth of new features and updates to your phone. One such privilege is access to the Android Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM) service which promises to bring increased functionality to the applications on your phone.

Chrome to Phone is an application that utilises this service to allow you to instantly send links from your Chrome web browser on your desktop or laptop computer to your phone. There are two parts to using it; a Chrome browser extension (available here) and a mobile application available for the Android Market.

It places a button in the browser window and whenever you want to send a link to your phone, just click the button and it is sent. Instantly, in my experience. It’s a very handy feature to have. If you have to go out you can send a link to the website you were reading which is handy to say the least.

Not only is the extension itself exciting but the technology behind it should also give you goosebumps. I’d like to see it implemented into the Facebook application, which compared to its iPhone cousin is rather lackluster.

Music Pirates Start Young

August 11th, 2009

A study carried out by the University of Hertfordshire has revealed some statistics that even I find quite shocking. Saying this, the study was carried out on behalf of UK Music -  an umbrella organisation representing the interests of groups within the UK music industry so take the results with a pinch of salt.

The key findings of the research revealed that 14 to 24 year olds amass a collection of around 8,000 tracks on average. If these were all gained illegally, that’s about six to eight thousand of our Great British pounds the music industry has lost, just from one person. My music collection barely tops two thousand tracks so for me this is quite a surprising statistic. On the other hand, the accessibility of illegal music on the internet – forums, torrents etc. – means that huge numbers of tracks can be downloaded over a small period of time.

A multi-million dollar industry

A multi-million dollar industry

Another result of the study revealed that, although the percentage of people who admitted to illegally downloading music has reduced by 3% on last year, 61% still admitted to it this year. This is not as high as I would have expected but I think you still have to account for those who did not admit to it when answering this question. The real value may be a little or a lot higher than this.

Illegally downloading music, among other media, is a huge issue at the moment and it seems it will continue to be unless the music industry and their customers listen to each other and compromise. People want free music and they want it on demand. This will never change. Some service providers, and even governments, have taken drastic action to stop illegal file sharing but people have found, and always will find, ways to get around the blockades imposed. Have a read of the report and see what you think and whether you agree with the findings.

Zune HD – Microsoft is Sexy Again

August 6th, 2009

I think the last time I saw those words in the same sentence was looking at that infamous photo of a young Bill Gates caressing a retro and probably very scared computer in the age of brown and more brown. I never thought I’d hear those words again with the imminent release of Windows 7 and Microsoft’s general history of proudly bringing ugly products to the market – the original Xbox and Internet Explorer are just two examples. On those special occasions though, the company surprises us with a beautiful product. The Xbox 360 was one example that comes to mind and now, I believe, another is the third generation of Zune, the Zune HD.

The first iteration of the iPod competitor was frankly awful. It lacked features that cheap Chinese MP3 player rip-offs excelled in, it looked ugly even compared to the slightly uglier iPods that were available back then and the interface had nothing on its competitors. It had promise though. Saying that, even the second generation of Zune didn’t quite hit the nail on the head. The thing I most remember it for is the Zune Pad – or the squircle – that was used as the main means of navigation through the product’s interface. Microsoft seems to have gone back to the drawing board, looked at what people love about other products in the personal multimedia player market and, probably just as important, what people don’t like about them. The result is the not yet released Zune HD and from preliminary reviews it is one damn sexy beast.

Zune HDThe main features of the Zune HD are its beautiful 3.3″ OLED touch screen display, unusual HD radio tuner, Wi-Fi connectivity and an internet browser that’s said to be good, even though the team behind Internet Explorer produced it. Another thing about it is that this will be the first Zune released outside of North America so it’ll be that bit easier to get your hands on it.

Firstly, along with the integrated HD radio and high-definition video playback (through an optional dock), the 3.3 inch OLED screen is something the Zune HD has that its main competitor, Apple’s iPod, currently does not. Early reviews, and especially leaked promotional photos, suggest the screen is beautiful. Secondly, unlike most players in the market, a HD radio is integrated into Microsoft’s latest entry. HD radio is very similar to DAB digital radio here in the UK and Europe. Hopefully when it is released here, the Zune HD will be modified in whatever way to allow us to receive DAB stations – a selling point very few MP3 players boast at the moment. The third important feature is that of a web browser. These days, any serious mobile entertainment device has to have the ability to surf the internet. Pre-release reviews of the web browser included with the Zune HD have yielded significant praise – especially considering the browser was born from the same team behind Internet Explorer. It apparently behaves almost exactly like the browser included with Apple’s iPod and iPhone. This can only be a good thing but with the good obviously comes the bad and at the time of review the browser on the Zune apparently did not include support for Adobe Flash. Hopefully an update somewhere along the line will bring this near essential functionality.

The Zune HD is shaping up to be a nice piece of technology and a huge improvement over previous generations. It’s not confirmed but suspected to be launched around early September this year although in which markets are anyone’s guess. Nor has pricing been confirmed but hopefully it will be priced competitively against other products. I’m going to go out on a limb and say around £190. This is one Microsoft product I can’t wait for. I won’t be one of those buying it as soon as the shop doors open, but I think I’ll be getting my hands on one if everything that’s been said is true.

Round-up of the Zune HD’s features:

  • 3.3″ OLED multi-touch touchscreen
  • pocket friendly size
  • nvidia Tegra graphics chip – challenging the iPod touch/iPhone’s gaming dominance?
  • HD radio tuner
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • web browser
  • equaliser
  • 720p HD output (with optional dock)

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June 17th, 2008

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