Microsoft Makes Cortana The AI To Combat Siri, Intros New Windows Phone Tricks

ms_build_2014_windows_phone_joe_belfiore_cortana-100259149-largeToday marks Microsoft’s 2014 BUILD conference, where Windows Phone 8.1 was unveiled. The star addition? Cortana, a personal digital assistant — indeed, the same namesake as the AI in Master Chief’s suit during the Halo franchise. Yup, she’s your new Windows Phone lead feature.

Other included features include the Action Center, which is basically a notification center for Windows Phone with battery percentage indicator (yes, the platform has never had one all this time), WiFi Sense (a Windows Phone will automatically log-in to safe and trusted networks) as well as support for customizeable lockscreens and backgrounds.

Going back to Cortana, the AI features Bing as the search engine of choice, with Yelp taking care of the restaurant portion. Attractions, basic information, reminders, weather, keeping track of appointments, and even interfacing with third-party apps (something that Siri and Google Now don’t do) are all in her feature set. Cortana will roll out to customers in the coming months, and will come pre-installed on new phones later this month.

Spotify Publishes A Dark Redesign For iPhone, Web, And Desktop

overviewThis is the biggest redesign since 2008 for Spotify, across all of their platforms. Instead of the boring, grey jukebox design of old, the Spotifiy design team has a dark, modern, with green accents and a sleek new design interface that is shared through the presentation of album art to the text size and spacing of song titles in playlists — it’s a complete overhaul.

The new experience is exposed at its height on the desktop app, appears as a dark yet very readable and inviting website through the web app version, and on iOS, a mobile optimized and finger-friendly version of both aforementioned design sets.

Starting later today, the redesign will arrive on the web, iOS, and desktop app version of Spotify, with Android coming in the “near future”.

Via: Spotify

Samsung Has The Galaxy Tab 4 Range Alive And Kicking

galaxy-tab-4All sporting LTE at Category 4 speeds, the new Galaxy Tab 4 range sports some pretty mainstream specs: A 1.2GHz quad-core CPU, 1,200 x 800 WXGA graphics, Android 4.4 KitKat, 1.5GB of RAM, 16GB of memory, a MicroSD slot and 3/1.3-megapixel front/back cameras on all models.

Three screen sizes exist: a 7-inch Galaxy Tab 4 7.0, the 8-inch Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 and the most familiar of the entire Galaxy Tab rnage, the 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 4 10.1.

Colors include: black and white; diversity indeed. Pricing hasn’t been made available yet, but will be available during the current quarter.

ViaSamsung

Samsung’s New Monitor Is 28-Inches Of 4K Pixels, At $700

samsung-uhd-700The arrival of affordable 4K resolution monitors is slowly on the roll, especially with the latest arrival from Samsung, in that spectrum of hardware.

Enter, the Ultra High Definition monitor from Samsung, which is 28-inches measured diagonally, two HDMI 1.4 ports, a Displayport, and audio out port, with a minimalist design.

The 4K capability is at 60Hz refresh rate on the display itself, and also possible through the DisplayPort connection, with a billion-colors, seen at approximately 3,840 x 2,160 pxiels.

Pre-orders begin now for $700 per monitor, with a launch on the 18th of April.

Via: Amazon

A Look At: The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 On Verizon

Note 3 on VerizonSame phone, different carrier. 

Back in November of 2013, I reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Note 3; the South Korean company’s third iteration of their most successful “big phone” — i.e. a phablet. In this scenario, fast forward to March of 2014, and Samsung is ready to launch the Galaxy S5, their new flagship smartphone, which is smaller in keeping with differentiation between the models.

A Look At: The Bio Trainer 1, A Biodegradable, Handmade Sneaker

Feit Bio Trainer 1The first thing you should throw out of your train of thought while looking at Feit’s Bio Trainer 1 sneaker: it’s not a hiking, jogging, or motorsport shoe. It’s in fact, more dressy and casual than anything else; business casual, if you may. And in use? It is comfortable — be sure to have it in your exact size, however.

Being a 100% handmade also doesn’t mean that there are inconsistencies; in fact, the Bio Trainer 1 is refined down to the outsole, insole, laces, and everything in between. The upper part of the shoe is made from hand-sewn vegetable-dyed suede or leather, and incorporates a 100% buffalo leather sole to absorb sweat. Colors include black, navy, and white.

Finally, the natural latex rubber sole is made from the milk of a rubber tree — it takes a full two weeks to make. So all in all, the Bio Trainer 1 is a tree-hugger’s dream shoe. Price tag? A hefty $425. Check out some photos of it, after the break.

Editor’s Note: Technically, this became a short photo essay, hasn’t it? 

Google’s New Requirement: “Powered by Android” Branding In The Bootscreen

aThis is sure to ruffle the hardcore Android open-source supporters, but this should only be seen as a firm hand that Google will raise, to give its brand some actual credit, where credit is due.

What I’m talking about exactly is the inclusion of “Powered by Android” in the bootscreen (when you turn on the phone after it’s completely turned off). HTC seems to be the first to include it with the new One M8, meaning that the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S5 — which in its debut press conference, did not mention Android at all — will undoubtedly include it.

How does any tech publication know this? Because of a manufactures wishes to include Google services on an Android phone (the Play Store, for example), they will be required to include the stamp; no exceptions.

Via: Geek

Microsoft Office For iPad Is Free, But Needs A Subscription To Edit

office-excel-ipadMicrosoft Office for iPad is finally available, officially, after all the years the iPad has been the dominant consumer tablet device.

The app itself is completely free and includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, so that docs for each application can be viewed easily, however if one wants to actually do some edits, an Office subscription will be required. Also, a five tablet limit will be placed on the user’s license, so there’s additional an limitation.

How much is that Office subscription, you might ask: $7 every month or $1.67 if you’re a student using Office 365 for University. Or, you could just use Apple’s iWork suite, which is free.