You’re probably saying to yourself, “didn’t Skype just get a Windows 8-friendly refresh?” Why yes, yes it did. But Skype 6.0 here isn’t limited to Windows RT slates, instead it’s designed for more traditional Windows systems and even has a similarly numbered OS X counter part. There’s a number of notable changes here, including the ability to sign in directly with your Facebook or Microsoft account. (If you’ve got a Live Messenger, Hotmail or Outlook.com account, then you’ve got a Microsoft account.) The most visible changes, however, will be the “flattened” Don’t-call-it-Metro-friendly UI on Windows and the addition of Retina display support on OS X. There’s a few other minor changes, including some additional localizations, which you can read about at the source. And heck, since you’re already there, might as well download Skype too.
Ubuntu 12.10 launches with web apps and search, Canonical plans for more secretive 13.04 development
An Ubuntu release is always a momentous occasion for a large portion of the Linux community, although it’s coming with a mild share of controversy this time around. Ubuntu 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal) is finished and brings with it support for pinning web apps to the Launcher as well as search that includes web results, detailed photo results and quick previews. They’re all appreciated upgrades — what’s raising hackles is the development strategy for 13.04, or Raring Ringtail. Company head Mark Shuttleworth wants a “skunkworks” approach that will silence pre-release discussion of some features outside of key, trustworthy community members. While there will still be open-source code and only a light layer of secrecy, Ubuntu’s progress in the near-term won’t be quite as transparent as we’re accustomed to with Linux. There’s a good chance that most end users won’t mind the difference enough to skip the download.
We’re almost there. Just a few more days until the big reveal. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still a few final Windows 8 secrets to be disclosed. Two of those are the price and the packaging, which online retailer Newegg has just let slip. There are four packages listed: Windows 8 Professional Upgrade ($69), Windows 8 Pro Pack ($69, product key card only), Windows 8 OEM ($99) and Windows 8 Professional ($139), with the latter two being available in both 32- and 64-bit versions (for the same price). If you go into the product page, however, we can see that the original price for the upgrade and product key card only versions is listed as “$199” suggesting that this might either be a launch offer, or subject to change. Don’t forget though, there’s still the chance to upgrade for an even lower price, for those who qualify. You can officially reserve your copy of Pro from today for $69.99 at all the main retailers, but if you can hold back on that impulse purchase for just a little longer, you’ll be able to upgrade to Pro online for $39 (until January 31st). Follow the source for details.
Google’s fast-track approach to updating Chrome gives a different theme to each update: last time, it was all about visual acuity. For the just launched Chrome 22 stable version, the focus swings to gaming. Web apps can now lock in the mouse control for first-person shooters, simulations and other 3D content that needs the full attention of the pointer during play. Not keen on action games through the browser? There’s still some fine-tuning in place for those who live on the cutting edge, including Windows 8 users and Retina MacBook Pro owners. The update may already be sitting on your computer if you’re running Chrome; if not, you can get your gaming-friendly fix (and the security notes) through the source links.
Firefox 15 to arrive in finished form on August 29th, promises truly stealthy updates for all (update 2: stand-alone, Android too)
Update 2: It’s now easier to get a stand-alone copy if you’re not updating, since Mozilla just updated the Firefox front page to reflect the new version. Android users are also getting an update through Google Play that brings earlier speed updates to tablets, a personalized start page and a whole host of extra fixes, some of which come directly from the desktop Firefox 15.
Aw, wouldn’t you look at the cute little… wait. Right, there’s a Chrome OS update. At its heart, the upgrade to Google’s cloud-based platform introduces a streamlined app list that both occupies less space and carries an internet-wide search box. It’s also possible to save files directly to Google Drive, and audio can now play through either HDMI or USB. Don’t lie to yourself, however: the real reason you’ll rush to update your Chromebook today is newly added support for custom wallpapers, which guarantees all-day, everyday viewing of your most favorite dog in the whole wide world. Or at least, a nice change of pace from Google’s run-of-the-mill backdrops. Isn’t it so sweet?
Here’s a bit of a surprise that slipped under the radar during the Google I/O keynote: Google Earth for Android has been updated to 7.0 to take advantage of the new 3D map technology it unveiled at another special event just a few weeks ago. As a refresher, the visuals are automatically created from 45-degree aerial imagery and can pick up 3D elements as subtle as trees. Before you go racing to your hometown to see how it looks in 3D, be aware that just a handful of cities and regions exploit that dimension. Besides San Francisco Bay, the full coverage extends to Boulder, Boston, Charlotte, Lawrence, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Portland, San Antonio, San Diego, Santa Cruz and Tampa in the US, with Rome being the lone international hotspot. If that’s too few places to visit, there’s always the addition of guided tours. Android users can head over Google Play to get the update today; iOS users shouldn’t fret, as they’ll get the new maps soon.
Many in the Windows Media Center community were afraid that Windows 8 would mark the end of Media Center, while others thought it would be like Notepad — present, but unchanged. In the end both were wrong as Microsoft announced Media Center would be available as an add-on to Windows 8. Until now though, we didn’t know exactly how that process would work. Steven Sinofsky outlined on the Building Windows 8 blog how users will be able to use Add Features to Windows 8 in Control Panel and purchase the same great Media Center experience that was included in Windows 7 Premium and Pro. The price is still unannounced but is expect to be “in line with marginal costs” — whatever that means. The price paid will cover the royalties for the required codecs to support broadcast TV and DVD playback (DVDs still won’t play in Media Player). One codec that will be supported in all version of Windows 8, but will require the computer maker to license the codec directly, is Dolby Digital Plus. So yeah, something else that was included in Windows 7 for free. We’re glad it’s there, but wish we’d get something new for the new premium price. Like most, we’ll probably hold on to our Windows 7 HTPC a little bit longer.
Sweet jumpin’ Jehoshaphat, it finally happened — Google Voice for Android now supports sending text messages to multiple recipients. Being able to have a single, archived repository of texts is great, but it was always somewhat bewildering that while you could send a mass SMS from the website you were stuck sending out individual missives on the app. Today’s update, version 0.4.2.38, finally gives Voice the power to spam your contacts — a pretty basic feature that even the lowliest of feature phones enjoys. So what are you waiting for, head over to the Market to get the update now. How else are you going to let all 300 of your closest acquaintances know the next time you’re DJing during happy hour?
Google Translate for Android gets v2.2 update, adds more language support for speech-to-speech (Video)
Let the voice recognition battle begin! Siri’s already thrown the first punch in the soon-to-be dicey (albeit very consumer friendly) voice service wars, but don’t count Google out just yet. The folks over at Mountain View are doing their best to strike back, adding extra functionality to the Google Translate app for Android. So, what’s new in this version 2.2 upgrade? The company’s expanded the app’s previously limited speech-to-speech repertoire with support for an additional 12 languages, accessible via the alpha-tagged Conversation Mode. And to prevent you from any awkward (and potentially hilarious) moments of unintended translation, there’s now a post-edit ability to keep those two-way foreign exchanges PG. Alright, so it’s not quite the hands-free, HAL-like cyber assistant update we’d like it to be, but there’s always Ice Cream Sandwich for that — we hope. In the meantime, go ahead and hit up the source below to test out the experimental wares for yourself or check out a video demo of Conversation Mode after the break.
Groupme, the little group messaging service that made a bit of a splash at Google I/O, turns 3.0 today. There are some shiny new features on board, including a simpler way to exchange private messages and “Questions” for sparking conversations when you’re not sure who to talk to. But, the big news — Groupme 3.0 is now platform and nation agnostic. With the latest update, the service will be available in 90 countries and add Windows Phone 7 to its list of supported OSes, alongside iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android. Even if you’re sitting in front of your desktop you can still take part in the mass messaging fun. The website has been overhauled and now sports all of the same features, like photo-sharing and group management, as the mobile apps. Check out the source link to get the latest version for your handset of choice — provided you’re not a Symbian fan — and don’t miss the gallery below.
That Sandy Bridge-equipped, “business rugged” Latitude E6420 that Dell debuted earlier this year just got a little more appealing to data fiends always on the go. That particular model can now be loaded with a Verizon LTE card that, as Big Red likes to brag, is up to ten times faster its 3G EV-DO network. You’re gonna have to cough up the big bucks to put the DW5800 4G mini-card in your laptop, though. The add-on is $249 and you’ll still have to sign up for a data plan, which starts at $30 a month for 2GB– but we’re sure you were prepared for a little sticker shock.
That “future software upgrade” Samsung promised us for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is “coming soon” according to the company’s site, though, when exactly “soon” might be is anyone’s guess. When it does start trickling its way on to Sammy’s slate, it’ll be bringing with it a host of new features, including that Honeycomb edition of TouchWiz that’s sure to be just as divisive as its smartphone ancestor. It does, however, pack in some nice functionality, like a multimedia clipboard for copying and pasting pictures and videos as well as text, and a Live Panel widget for pulling in news, weather, and updates from your social networks. Other features that you’re used to on Samsung devices are also coming along for the ride, including the Media Hub for purchasing videos and the latest, intense version of Swype. There’s also a remote tracking and wipe function for those who have a tendency to leave their gadgets behind at Starbucks, and it unlocks USB, SD card, and HDMI functionality — with the appropriate accessories of course. Check out the source link for a few more details.
The latest update to Skype’s Android application has just been rolled out and a big part of its goodie delivery is two-way video calling. Only a quartet of phones are supported right now: Google’s own Nexus S, HTC’s Desire S, and the Xperia Neo and Pro from Sony Ericsson, all handsets that shipped with Android 2.3 installed. We suspect the rest of the Android world won’t be far behind — Thunderbolt users will surely be wondering why they’re not included in this first batch — but for now it’s just that fearsome foursome. Also included in Skype v220.127.116.11 is a UI overhaul and support for SMS messaging, neither of which suffers from any handset restrictions. Hit up the Android Market on your phone (the web Market still lists version 1) to get at the latest software.
You know that microSD card slot that’s been laying dormant in your Motorola Xoom? Provided you don’t reside in the US, that’ll be getting activated soon as part of the tablet’s Android 3.1 update, which is starting to roll out now and should have all of Europe covered within the next few weeks. Motorola explicitly identifies this as a firmware update for “non-US” Xooms, so Canadians would be well advised to check their software update utility, though the big question is why didn’t the American 3.1 update include microSD support as well? What tangled web of intrigue lies behind this selective activation?