Monthly Archives: April 2016

Check out Windows 95 running on the Apple Watch (VIDEO)

Some people just have too much time on their hands. Take Nick Lee, for instance. He was able to load Windows 95 on an Apple Watch and get the classic OS to run on the wearable. The UI is way too small to be useful, but the touchscreen allows the user to open apps. We wouldn’t call it responsive, and it takes about an hour for Windows 95 to load. To prevent the slow response times from continuously turning off the screen, Lee added a motor that keeps touching the crown so that the screen doesn’t turn off.

To load Windows 95 on the Apple Watch, Lee used a WatchKit app that he was able to revise allowing him to install the Bochs x86 emulator. If you want to want to follow in his footsteps, Lee posted whatever code he could on GitHub, and you can check it out by clicking on the sourcelink.

In the meantime, if you want to see what Windows 95 looks like on the Apple Watch, click on the video below. We should warn you that in some respects, this is like watching paint dry.

And once again we are reminded of the words said by Jeff Goldblum’s character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, in Jurrasic Park. “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

source: GitHub, NickLee via Engadget

Did Apple secretly tweak the algorithm for its App Store search tool with the iOS 9.3 update?

According to Lior Eldan, co-founder of App Store optimization firm Moburst, evidence suggests that iOS 9.3 brought some unpublished changes to the algorithm used for the U.S. version of the Apple App Store search tool. Results that appear after a typo or misspelled app name is searched for now seem to be based on what Apple believes that the user is searching for, and what he/she will click on after the results appear.

Misspelling ride sharing app Uber as “ubber” resulted in both Uber and Lyft showing up in the search results. Interestingly, misspelling Uber as “uper” resulted in results with Uber on top, even ahead of an app actually named uper. This would seem to indicate that the App Store algorithm is trying to read minds. Both keywords started appearing on Uber search results March 20th, the weekend before the launch of iOS 9.3. This further strengthens Eldan’s hypothesis about Apple slipping in a change to the App Store search algorithm with the update.

This change could be helpful, as Eldan points out, in cases where developers didn’t include typos among the keywords that link to their apps. But it also shows some odd search results. For example, search for Panera Bread in the App Store, and Mosaic Photo Books pops up 9th, followed by Uber. Perhaps those who use Uber have a tendency to use the service to get to and from Panera. As far as the appearance of the Photo Books app is concerned, we can’t even begin to take a guess.

Earlier this month, we passed along a rumor stating that Apple will soon offer developers the opportunity to pay to have their apps listed first on App Store search results. This is reportedly a secret project that is being manned by 100 Apple employees.

source: VentureBeat

Unlocked HTC 10 will be shipped to the U.S. this coming week

The unlocked HTC 10 is shipping to the U.S. next week

The unlocked HTC 10 is shipping to the U.S. next week

HTC’s Jeff Gordon took to his Twitter account on Friday to announce that the unlocked version of the HTC 10 will start shipping to the U.S. this coming week. That is good news for those AT&T customers who turned to the manufacturer’s own website to pre-order the new flagship model. Because the nation’s second largest carrier is not carrying the device at this time, AT&T subscribers who want the phone have to purchase the unlocked variant of it, which does support the operator’s LTE network.

Yesterday, it was announced that Verizon will have a exclusive on the carrier-branded version of the HTC 10 until May 10th. Big Red started to take pre-orders for the handset yesterday, and says that it will start shipping those units on May 5th. Yesterday, Sprint revealed that the HTC 10 will be available for its customers on May 13.

While AT&T isn’t offering the HTC 10 right now, there is precedent for them to make a late arrival. Back in 2013 when the HTC One was launched, Verizon did not offer the phone because it felt that the HTC DROID DNA was a more than sufficient replacement. But Verizon later changed its mind and added the HTC One to its lineup.

You can pre-order the unlocked version of the HTC 10 by clicking on the sourcelink. On the site, you can also start the process of trading in your current handset to knock some bucks off of the $699 price of the new flagship handset.

HTC's Jeff Gordon says that the unlocked HTC 10 will start shipping to the states next week

HTC’s Jeff Gordon says that the unlocked HTC 10 will start shipping to the states next week

source: HTC, @urbanstrata via Droid-Life

Deal: Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge now available at great prices on eBay

The international, unlocked variants of the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge can be currently had at great prices from eBay.

Starting off with the standard version of the Samsung Galaxy S7, the international variant of the phone, in its unlocked variety, can be had for just $559. 

Seeing that the unlocked Galaxy S7 is priced at around the $700 by carriers and retailers, this is a very good deal for what many consider as the best non-phablet currently available on the market. On the downside, only the gold variant of the phone is available at this price. For much more details about the handset, check out our full Samsung Galaxy S7 review.

The larger and more interesting Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, which usually retails at nearly $800 can be had at just $628.99 on eBay. Those with an eye for large-screened smartphones are probably well aware that this is a very good price for what can be considered the best smartphone that money can currently purchase. All three color variants – black, gold, and silver – are available and the offer also includes free US shipping. Head on over to our full Samsung Galaxy S7 edge review for a complete analysis of the phone.

Both of these phones come with the Exynos 8890 chipset, which is what Samsung equips its flagship phones with in most markets. The US version comes with a Snapdragon 820 chipset, which is a fast beast on its own, but just not as fast or as power efficient as the Exynos 8890. Unfortunately, these phones lack Samsung Pay support, which is a bit of a bummer given how easy it is to pay for goods and services using Samsung’s mobile payment technology.

These phones are unlocked models that will work on GSM carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile. Sprint and Verizon customers should look elsewhere. Another thing to bear in mind before committing to a purchase is that these phones do not come with a warranty, meaning that you’ll have to pay for any potential repairs yourself, although this drawback can be solved by getting a device insurance plan.

Marshmallow update delayed for AT&T’s HTC One (M8) and HTC One M9

A tweet from HTC’s VP of product management, Mo Versi, reveales some bad news for AT&T subscribers with the HTC One (M8) and HTC One M9. Versi said in his tweet that the Android Marshmallow update for the AT&T branded version of HTC’s 2014 and 2015 flagship models, has been delayed. The HTC executive did add that the manufacturer is still in the lab, and hopes to have approval for the update in the next couple of weeks.

Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint customers sporting the two handsets have already received the update, which includes a number of new features like Doze. This feature puts an inactive Android phone into a deep sleep, and prevents apps from working in the background while the phone is napping. The goal is to increase standby time and increase the battery life of the phone.

Google Now On Tap provides contextual search results based on the content on your screen. And with Marshmallow, Android app permissions can be approved or denied on a feature-by-feature basis.

AT&T customers who love HTC have to be feeling a bit snakebit. Not only is their update to Marshmallow running behind all of the other major U.S. carriers, it is now delayed. And to top it off, the phone that is arguably the best handset to come out of HTC in years, the HTC 10, is not being sold by the carrier. That makes AT&T the only one of the four major carriers in the states not to offer the model to its subscribers. AT&T users aren’t completely shut out since the unlocked version of the phone, sold directly by HTC, supports AT&T’s LTE bands.

HTC executive Mo Versi reveals that the Marshmallow update for AT&T's HTC One (M8) and HTC One M9 has been delayed for a couple of weeks

HTC executive Mo Versi reveals that the Marshmallow update for AT&T’s HTC One (M8) and HTC One M9 has been delayed for a couple of weeks

source: @moversi via AndroidandMe

Marshmallow update delayed for AT&T’s HTC One (M8) and HTC One M9

A tweet from HTC’s VP of product management, Mo Versi, reveales some bad news for AT&T subscribers with the HTC One (M8) and HTC One M9. Versi said in his tweet that the Android Marshmallow update for the AT&T branded version of HTC’s 2014 and 2015 flagship models, has been delayed. The HTC executive did add that the manufacturer is still in the lab, and hopes to have approval for the update in the next couple of weeks.

Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint customers sporting the two handsets have already received the update, which includes a number of new features like Doze. This feature puts an inactive Android phone into a deep sleep, and prevents apps from working in the background while the phone is napping. The goal is to increase standby time and increase the battery life of the phone.

Google Now On Tap provides contextual search results based on the content on your screen. And with Marshmallow, Android app permissions can be approved or denied on a feature-by-feature basis.

AT&T customers who love HTC have to be feeling a bit snakebit. Not only is their update to Marshmallow running behind all of the other major U.S. carriers, it is now delayed. And to top it off, the phone that is arguably the best handset to come out of HTC in years, the HTC 10, is not being sold by the carrier. That makes AT&T the only one of the four major carriers in the states not to offer the model to its subscribers. AT&T users aren’t completely shut out since the unlocked version of the phone, sold directly by HTC, supports AT&T’s LTE bands.

HTC executive Mo Versi reveals that the Marshmallow update for AT&T's HTC One (M8) and HTC One M9 has been delayed for a couple of weeks

HTC executive Mo Versi reveals that the Marshmallow update for AT&T’s HTC One (M8) and HTC One M9 has been delayed for a couple of weeks

source: @moversi via AndroidandMe

Review: ADV.SOUND M4 in-ear monitors

Published by at 9:44 UTC, April 30th 2016

‘Flat’ is a word which had distinct negative connotations in most reviews, implying lack of any real emotion or selling points. However, when talking about smartphone earbuds, ‘flat’ is just about perfect, referring to the frequency response, so that bass, middle and high frequencies are all reproduced efficiently and accurately. Such is the case with the rather wonderful ADV.SOUND M4 (and yes, the manufacturer name is supposed to be in all caps, with a period in the middle!), more accurately described as ‘in-ear monitors’ – with no enhancement or tuning beyond what’s actually in your music files, they make great reference headphones for a musician, for example. The ace in the hole turns out to be the supplied ‘Comply’ memory foam tips though, which are stunningly innovative.

The ADV.SOUND M4 headphones sit at around the same price point as the ROCKJAW Arcana V2 that I’ve previously reviewed – so in the £30 region, and this is significant. You pay £10 for headphones (or use the ones in the phone’s box) and you get ‘meh’ performance in terms of accuracy – usually there’s no sparkle at the top end and little bass at the bottom. At the other extreme you might pay hundreds of pounds and you get studio-quality perfection, but surely there’s got to be a middle ground. And there is – it’s this £25-£35 price point where you’re paying enough to get decent design and quality, exemplified here by the M4s.

M4

The packaging is premium, with a box photo that instantly gets across the target market – though in practice anyone who appreciates good music reproduction will like these.

You get the aluminium in-ear monitors themselves, plus a carrying case stuffed with no less than 9 alternative sets of ‘tips’ (3 colours in 3 sizes!), but the default are the terrific Comply tips. These are made from a type of ‘memory foam’ – you’ll have seen this on sofas, armchairs and beds, no doubt. Press it in as hard as you like for as long as you like and it recovers to its original shape.

The Comply tips here are similar – they look too large at first but then you read the instructions and realise that the idea is to roll these with your fingers, squeezing each into a smaller cylinder – you then insert it into the ear canal and wait – around 15 seconds is recommended. The Comply foam is expanded by then to as large a diameter as it can, in theory perfectly sealing your ear.

M4

The sensation and feel in the ear is a little odd at first, but you soon get used to it (feeling ‘fuller’ than with normal silicone tips) and the idea is that these earbuds fit to well that they won’t fall out while exercising. I’m not altogether convinced by this – they’re still easy enough to pull out when you need to – but they’re certainly a very good fit, by definition. They also cut out external noise very well, so there’s no real need for active noise cancellation. Or you can try one of the 9 other tips, made with more standard silicone, if you prefer. 

But onto performance. Despite the usual (yada yada) ‘Compatible with iOS and Android’ on the box, the M4 headset works flawlessly with Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile in terms of call management and playing/pausing playback.

Across a range of music, as teased earlier, the response in the ears is absolutely ‘flat’. There are no efforts to artificially emphasise any particular frequency, you just hear bass notes, middle and treble with perfect accuracy. While this won’t necessarily please ‘drum ‘n’ bass’ fans (etc.), it does mean that you’re hearing music the way the artist probably intended it to be (e.g. listening in the studio on reference monitors). 

In contrast to the ROCKJAW Arcana v2, which I also love, the M4 doesn’t have quite as much bottom and top end, but then that probably just reflects the way I like my frequencies – I’m always turning on the ‘Rock’ setting on any equalisers I come across – purely artificial of course, but we’re deep into the realms of subjectivity here.

The twisted cord design is demonstrably less likely to tangle, which is good, and the M4 felt very solid (especially with those initially large Comply tips). I’ve seen RRP for these of up to £60, which in itself wouldn’t be outrageous, so the current street price of around £35 (sent in for review here by Mobile Fun) seems particularly good value.

How to: Revert from the Windows 10 Mobile ‘Redstone’ Insiders branches to …

They don’t call it the bleeding edge for nothing. While most of Windows 10 Mobile Redstone branch (14xxx) worked fine, there were some showstoppers that really annoyed me when trying to use it on my main smartphone. In this case the Lumia 950 and the problem was that the media controls are horribly broken. Podcasts would be playing but with the control showing them paused, and vice versa, music wouldn’t start when I wanted it to, and so on. Plus Tweetium still kept crashing and forced me to use other Twitter clients. I know, I know, first world problems for sure, but I wanted to live for a while back in the safer clutches of the Threshold world, where the riskiest builds are ‘Release Preview’ and thus only one step away from being released to Joe Public.

Here’s how I got on. Feel free to join in at home!

ScreenshotScreenshot

Podcasts (whatever client I used) were driving me mad – it’s an issue to do with the system media controls; (right) checking my backup!

1. Make sure you have a good backup. These are done automatically with Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile, but it never hurts to pop into Settings, as shown above right, and do an extra incremental backup, so that your apps, settings and data are bang up to date on Microsoft’s servers.

2. Start the Windows Device Recovery Tool on your PC. You can’t just ‘reset’ the phone, since you flashed a new OS when you last upgraded it, effectively. The old OS version is long gone and needs replacing wholesale.

Screenshot

What’s this? A survey!

3. Select your device and accept the suggested official firmware/OS. Microsoft will pop up a survey but you don’t have to pick an answer – as a Redstone Insider going backwards, I think it might confuse Microsoft if you did!

Screenshot

4. Click Continue and wait while (in this case) almost 3GB of operating system image is downloaded. This may take a while! The dialog reminds you about a device backup and, given that this happens to the cloud, there’s no reason why you can’t do this step (uploading) while the OS image downloads on the PC.

Screenshot

5. If there’s a problem, don’t panic. Follow the instructions on screen. In my case, and what I suspect is typical of a device with the latest, relatively untested Redstone OS build, the Device Recovery Tool didn’t play ball with the phone and I ended up following the button-holding instruction below:

Screenshot

Trying to get connected…

6. When recognised, click on ‘Install software’. After the suggested long press reset, my Lumia 950 came up (as yours will) with just the generic ‘Lumia BootMgr’ as the model, though the tool seems to remember which device firmware is needed and offers it anyway. Don’t worry, you don’t have to download it all over again, Windows keeps cached copies of recently used OS images…

Screenshot

7. Wait while your phone is reflashed with the new OS version:

8. Go through the usual startup sequence on the phone, signing in and choosing the suggested (most recent) device backup when prompted. Not all the Redstone settings are compatible with the older ‘Threshold’ OS version and so you’ll see an error message during the restore process:

ScreenshotScreenshot

9. Press on and exercise patience. After the ‘Restoring’ progress bar has completed (this takes about 15 minutes), you’re still faced with at least an hour’s application installs and updates, all of which happen in the background. So you can use your phone for the essentials while the installs happen, as long as you’re in range of Wifi. Do note though that some of the installs require a restart, and that one of the core application updates is the Store itself, so it pays to babysit the whole process and keep an eye on things. So pop back every 10 minutes and see how it’s getting on!

ScreenshotScreenshot

While installations are happening in the background, appropriate live tiles are greyed out and app entries in the main app list are shown as ‘Pending’. Nothing to worry about, just be patient. And be aware that, in addition to your third party installs, there are also around 60 core module and built-in app updates to process. It’s going to take a while!

PS. In my case, once all the above was complete and I was fully back in action, I opted to take one step back into the future, by putting on the much safer ‘Release Preview’ build for the Threshold branch, but that’s the usual very simple step of installing the Windows Insider application and trying to avoid the temptation to tap on either ‘Fast’ or ‘Slow’… I managed. This time!

Instagram now officially out of beta, no longer part of the ‘app gap’

Published by at 15:16 UTC, April 28th 2016

Instagram has been quoted for years as the prime example of the ‘app gap’ for Windows Phone and beyond, and apparently something with ‘beta’ in the title doesn’t count. Fear not though, for there’s an update in the Store right now that removes this tag – and presumably the labelling in the Store will change shortly too – there’s often a five hour gap between binaries and their associated text – go figure!

Here’s my previous write-up of the Instagram Beta (UWP) about six weeks ago. Today’s update is v7.20.1, so a minor step up from 7.17, but I can’t see anything that’s new apart from the removal of a few bugs and that ‘beta’ tag. Still, I guess that’s significant enough in itself.

Instagram’s UWP is somewhat slow, especially on the QHD and 1080p phones, but then it’s limited by being heavily graphical and requiring a fast Internet connection – so be patient with it. I notice that you can’t remove the virtual Windows 10 Mobile controls to increase tghe viewing area, so this UWP is definitely missing a trick and expect further updates soon.

Screenshot, Instagram Beta UWPScreenshot, Instagram Beta UWP

You can grab or update Instagram for Windows 10 Mobile here in the Store. It’s not known what will happen to the ‘Instagram Beta’ for Windows Phone 8 devices – in theory all this could be back ported easily enough. I’ll update this story if I notice this happening.

Source / Credit: Store