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Microsoft unveils Windows 10

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Microsoft has unveiled Windows 10 which will offer users a unified look and feel across all Windows devices. It will also feature multiple desktops and re-introduce the familiar Start menu that was absent in previous Windows versions.

Microsoft has unveiled its next Windows operating system, Windows 10. It also gave a first look at an early Technical Preview for the PC, highlighting advancements designed for business, including an updated user experience, enhanced security and management capabilities.

The company also introduced the Windows Insider Program (WIP), kicking off their largest ever open collaborative development effort to change the way Windows is built and delivered to meet the needs of customers. Program participants will receive the technical preview of Windows XX and a steady stream of builds through the development cycle to use and give feedback on.

“Windows 10 represents the first step of a whole new generation of Windows, unlocking new experiences to allow customers new ways to work, play and connect,” said Terry Myerson, executive vice president, Operating Systems group at Microsoft. “This will be our most comprehensive OS and the best release Microsoft has ever done for our business customers, and we look forward to working together with our broader Windows community to bring Windows 10 to life in the months ahead.”

Microsoft provided the following information on Windows 10:

Windows 10: Familiarity and Consistency Across Devices

Windows 10 adapts to the devices customers are using—from Xbox to PCs, phones to tablets and tiny gadgets—and what they’re doing with a consistent, familiar and compatible experience, enabling even greater productivity. Windows xx will run across the broadest range of devices ever from the Internet of Things to enterprise data centers worldwide. Microsoft is also delivering a converged application platform for developers on all of these devices with a unified app store. Developers will be able to write an application once and deploy it easily across multiple device types, making discovery, purchase and updating easier than ever for customers.

Windows 10: Designed for the Challenges of Modern Business

Windows 10 builds nearly everything that businesses need, right into the core of the product – including enterprise-grade security, identity and information protection features – in ways that can reduce complexities and provide better experiences than other solutions. One area of advancement is in the work we’ve done with user identities that improve resistance to breach, theft or phishing. Windows 10 will also help advance data loss prevention by using containers and data separation at the application and file level, enabling protection that follows the data wherever it goes.

Management and deployment has been simplified to help lower costs, including in-place upgrades from Windows 7 or 8 that are focused on making device wipe-and-reload scenarios obsolete. Businesses will also have the flexibility now to choose how quickly they adopt the latest innovations, as well as influence continued improvements based on their feedback. Additionally, organizations will be able to customize a store specific to their needs and environment. The app store will allow for volume app licensing, flexible distribution and the ability for organizations to reclaim or re-use licenses when they need.

Technical Preview PC Productivity

The early Technical Preview of Windows 10 demonstrates new levels of flexibility, navigation and familiarity through the Windows experience, such as:

·         Expanded Start Menu: The familiar Start menu is back providing quick one-click access to the functions and files that people use most, and includes a new space to personalize with favorite apps, programs, people, and websites.

·         Apps run in a window: Apps from the Windows Store now open in the same format that desktop programs do. They can be resized and moved around, and have title bars at the top allowing for maximize, minimize, and close with a click.

·         Snap enhancements: Working in multiple apps at once is easier and more intuitive with snap improvements. Have up to four apps snapped on the same screen with a new quadrant layout. Windows will also show other apps and programs running for additional snapping and even make smart suggestions on filling available screen space with other open apps.

·         New Task View button: The new task view button on the task bar enables one view for all open apps and files allowing for quick-switching, and one-touch access to any desktops created.

·         Multiple desktops: Instead of too many apps and files overlapping on a single desktop, it’s easy to create and switch between distinct desktops for different purposes and projects—whether for work or personal use, or both.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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