Today Microsoft announced the next set of features that it will introduce to the Windows Phone platform. The update will ship on the Lumia 925, announced today, and will “start rolling out” to other Windows Phone 8 handsets this summer.
Its feature set, though Microsoft calls it “small,” has a number of key upgrades that should keep fans of the platform content. Up first: FM radio. Microsoft claims that it heard customer complaint, and thus has brought back the feature. A bit later than some might have liked, but it’s welcome all the same.
Also in the update will be the expansion of Data Sense to more carriers, and updates to Xbox Music to make music selection simpler, along with improved metadata accuracy.
Finally, and this is the feature that matters, the small update will contain support for Google’s sync protocols CalDAV and CarddDAV. This means that if you use a Windows Phone handset, you can keep using your full suite of Google mail, calendar, and contact services.
That’s big news for Windows Phone users, as Google had previously threatened to cut Windows Phone off as it dropped support for Exchange Active Sync, before Microsoft had built CalDAV and CarddDAV support for the platform. After a high-noon situation, Google relented, extending support a bit, granting Microsoft time to code.
To put the above update in context, we turn to Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet. She calls the update GRD2, which is Microsoft-speak for the second ‘General Distribution Release.’ The first came last year, bringing messaging improvements.
However, what is interesting is that Microsoft’s ‘Blue’ update, according to Foley, isn’t even next in the docket:
The GDR2 update — which Microsoft officials never actually call GDR2 in today’s blog post — is coming “this summer.” GDR3 sounds like it may be timed to arrive this fall. And Windows Phone Blue is sounding from tipsters more and more like a 2014 release.
This is both good, and perhaps less good. Great that Microsoft has more updates in the pipelines. Less good as I frankly can’t wait to get my hands on Blue.
For now, Windows Phone 8 continues to better itself with improved code, and new handsets. Nokia’s second quarter Lumia sales will be the report card, of course.
Microsoft has announced via its conference website that the coming Build developer event in San Francisco will sell a small number of new tickets this Wednesday, at 9 am, Pacific time. The company has made “more room,” it claims.
The news matters as the Build event had sold out, keeping many developers outside of an event that will see Microsoft retool its Windows 8 operating system, and likely much more; if you develop for the Windows or Windows Phone platforms, it’s the place to be.
Happily, this iteration of Build is in San Francisco, which should spare the tech industry another Woodstockian mud-fest, as the last Build devolved into. Jests aside, here’s the official Microsoft verbiage: “A limited number of additional tickets will go on sale Wednesday May 15 at 9am PDT.”
Microsoft has publicly confirmed that it will be discussing the ‘Blue’ set of updates to a number of software products. In October of 2012, Microsoft sequentially released a host of new software. Now, less than a year later, the company is working to, quickly, address concerns from users.
That Microsoft is having another Build event so close to its last, and to its most recent product crop’s release, is a small testament to the fact that the company is working to speed its development cycles.
I expect that the forthcoming set of tickets will go quickly, so if you want one, show up on time. TNW has asked Microsoft to specify the number of tickets that will be made available. We will update this post upon their response.
Top Image Credit: Damian Gadal
Yet another iOS timer app has hit our radar, however, going by the name of Timeless. And we think you’ll like it.
Timeless is an incredibly simple app for iPhone and iPod touch, allowing you to set multiple timers using nothing but taps and swipes. This could be for if you’re cooking a meal, waiting for something to come on TV and everything in between.
When you get past the opening intro screen, the first thing you’ll see is the countdown timer, set to 00:00.
Each column, for hours and minutes, is scrollable and takes seconds – if you’ll pardon the pun – to set your desired time.
Given you can set multiple countdowns, you can add a tag manually to each one, so you know what is what. It’s probably worth noting the one obvious flaw here too – you can only set hours and minutes. It would be good to set a countdown for, say, 90 seconds.
For each timer, you can pause or resume at any point via the small button at the bottom center, while clicking the ‘bell’ icon lets you tweak vibration and audio alert settings.
You can also double-tap anywhere to start/stop each timer, which is a nice touch.
You swipe right to start a new timer, and swipe left/right to navigate between the various ones you’ve set up.
When a timer expires, you get a notification on your homescreen, as well as any audio alert you’ve set up.
Oh, and while this app has been out for a few weeks already, the latest update also sees a stopwatch feature brought in. To enable this, you simply have to hit the ‘Play’ button when the timer is at 00:00.
There’s a settings menu that lets you set the default sound/notifications and sound effects. And crucially, for an app that relies heavily on looks, you can change the color themes too.
Timeless is really all about the usability and the ‘look and feel’, and on this front it delivers. It’s the latest in a line of apps that combine simplicity and aesthetics to deliver something really great – check out Currency Converter too.
Timeless is available to download from the App Store now, costing $0.99 or your local currency equivalent.
Feature Image Credit – Thinkstock
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View original post here: TNW Pick of the Day: Timeless is a beautifully simple timer app for iPhone
Novell today released Filr, a product that provides a Dropbox-like service for enterprise-level companies, with files hosted on-premises, instead of on third-party cloud architecture. The goal of Filr is to bring the functionality of Dropbox or Box to a company’s employees, without ceding control of its data.
The pitch for Filr is that employees demand certain capabilities in their day to day workflow – yes, this is the now overused ‘consumerization of IT’ – but a large slice of CIOs are simply not comfortable with allowing their sensitive information to head out the door.
TNW sat with Novell president Bob Flynn to discuss the product, which is more than simply a new service for it to vend; Filr marks the first of what the company intends to be a number of public steps to bring Novell back into the technology spotlight, and grow its revenues at the same time.
Novell is a company that can claim to be the progenitor of file and networking services, such as local area networks. The company is a touch over 30 years old, depending on how you count, placing it among an elite group of tech companies that made to a fourth decade.
The road from its storied past to today hasn’t been a smooth one of late, with Novell shrinking until it was acquired by Attachmate for $2.2 billion in 2011. CPTN Holdings – a consortium that sports Apple among other firms – bought $450 million of the company’s intellectual property.
Taken from the public markets, Novell has been busy at work, according to Flynn, rebuilding itself, sharpening its product line, and now, most recently, building anew. Filr, as I stated above, is more than a simple launch for the company; this is its coming out party.
Novell’s brand, Flynn told TNW, has taken a “major beating,” which lead to its customers “drifting away.” You have to respect that sort of candor. The company has a new message for enterprise clients: Don’t judge the firm based on its legacy brand, instead judge it purely on its technological prowess.
Filr, in Flynn’s eyes, is a good “proof point” for the company.
Filr is almost an odd product. In today’s market the cloud is ascendant; soon, in the eyes of many, everything will be on the cloud. Assimilation isn’t even up for debate.
However, that view isn’t share in the C-level suites of every large company. Many firms have invested heavily in their own internal hardware stack, and either do not wish to lean on the cloud of another, or cannot due to contractual and legal requirements; think HIPAA, in the latter case.
Filr therefore aims to be a compromise between management and the regular staff: Yes, you want to access your work files on all your devices, and on the go, but we don’t want to cede control of that data. Filr is designed to make both happy, sitting atwixt.
To the user, it is hard to tell that Filr isn’t based on a public cloud; it operates as if it was. Supporting iOS, Android, newer versions of BlackBerry, the Web, and sporting a desktop client and soon, a Windows 8 app, Filr has broad platform support. Here’s a shot of its Web interface in action:
It’s not beautiful, I admit. Its mobile apps are a touch prettier. Here’s a shot the company provided TNW:
Filr has a main three column interface that is pervasive across platforms: My Files, Shareed with Me, and Shared by Me. Files can be uploaded, shared, and are automatically kept in sync by Filr.
The apps themselves allow for the viewing of files within them. The iPad application – by far the most attractive Filr experience – is responsive and quick to use, allowing users to load and flip through any file they have stored, in its most recent format.
Naturally, Filr has a set of IT-focused tools to set permissions, and determine what users can and cannot do. This is designed for the enterprise, after all. So, Filr has a good feature set and an interface that could use a retouch. How does it compete in terms of price?
Filr will cost corporations $45.60 per year per user, or $3.80 per user per month. I asked about the pricing levels, and their odd numbers, but couldn’t quite parse the answer. For comparison, the middle tier of Box costs $15 per user per month, a still fair sum. Novell appears set to compete on price.
Filr has been in beta for some time, with “hundreds” of customers taking part. Response, Novell told TNW, has been strong.
In short, Novell wants you to know that it isn’t dead yet, in the Monty Python sense. Filr is the start of what it expects to be its comeback. Market reaction will determine if it is correct. The race is on.
Top Image Credit: Kiran Foster
Go here to see the original: Novell takes on Dropbox with Filr, an on-premise cloud file storage solution for large firms
When you’re a hacker waiting to take the Disrupt Hackathon stage, you’re probably just making sure that your project actually works. One gentleman decided to scrap his project completely and use his 60 seconds to discuss his political views, attacking large corporations for using your data to make money.
The crowd was a bit surprised as he read a prepared statement from his iPad, but listened to what he had to say nonetheless.
“Do we really need a new way to share our shit?” he began his talk with. And it got people’s attention:
He urged the attendees to stand up against sharing all of their data, opting to sell their content for a price they set.
After the Hackathon resumed its regular tech show-and-tell programming, I met Todd Bonnewell backstage to discuss what had just transpired and find out about the actual hack he scrapped to share his message.
There you have it. Even a hackathon can get hacked.