The recent iOS 5 announcement highlighted several interesting additions to Apple's app-focused operating system, such as the new <a href="http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9220539/With_Siri_Apple_s_iPhone_4S_gets_a_voice">Siri voice command interface</a>, which will be available only on the iPhone 4S. In contrast, <a href="http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9137060/Microsoft_Update_Latest_news_features_reviews_opinions_and_more">Microsoft's</a> new <a href="http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9219927/AT_T_to_offer_three_Mango_smartphones_this_fall">Mango version</a> of Windows Phone 7 (which is actually version 7.5) helps fulfill that platform's promise of helping people focus on the tasks they want to accomplish and the information they want to receive, rather than the apps they run -- especially when it comes to social networking and communications.
Stories by Preston Gralla
A first hands-on look at the just-released Developer Preview of Windows 8</a> (which became available last night at the <a href="http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/home/">Windows Dev Center</a> site) reveals an operating system poised halfway between yesterday's desktop and tomorrow's touch-screen interface. I installed it on a PC, but the OS seems built more for tablets and mobile devices than traditional computers,
WebFilter is a free Chrome extension designed to block access to objectionable or dangerous sites, including those that are pornographic, harbor malware, show drug use, or are heavy bandwidth users. It's a generally useful tool, although it is somewhat marred by its surprising inability to block at least one very obvious problematic site.
The free TrackMeNot Firefox add-on takes a unique and creative approach to protecting your privacy from search engines that can create profiles of you based on terms you search for. Rather than hiding your searches from them in some way, it takes the exact opposite tack: It inundates search engines with a blizzard of background searches from you, so that no practical profile can be built because there are too many random searches. It generates those search terms from a group of RSS feeds from sites including the New York Times, CNN, and others.
One of the first services that Google unveiled at this week's Google I/O conference was its new <cloud-based music player, Google Music. I've spend the last 12 hours using the beta of Google Music and for someone like me, with multiple PCs, a Mac, a Motorola Xoom and a Motorola Droid X, it's the Holy Grail of music players. Gone are the days of trying to copy and sync music from my main PC to everywhere else. Now, no matter where I am, as long as I've got Internet access, I've got access to my entire music collection.
The news that iPhones, iPads and Android devices secretly track the locations of their owners poses a potentially serious dilemma for IT staffs. If someone's manager asks IT to retrieve that data and hand it over, what should IT do? We certainly have to acknowledge that a device that's used for business purposes but automatically tracks personal information blurs the line between personal and corporate information.
The recently released Firefox 4 is a big improvement over previous versions of the popular Web browser, but you can still teach it plenty of tricks.
If you have a small network at your business or at home, you need help -- and lots of it. For your home network, you are by default the network administrator. You may also be the de facto network administrator at work, in addition to the other job titles you could claim. And if you are the acknowledged network administrator, you probably have little or no backup staff.
It's been a long wait for Firefox 4; it was nearly two years ago that Firefox 3.5 was released. A lot has changed in the browser world since then. But though the wait has been a long one, it has paid off for those with patience: Firefox 4 is a winner.
The past year has been a remarkable one for smartphones, with the meteoric rise of Google's Android OS, the restart of Microsoft's mobile strategy with its much-ballyhooed release of Windows Phone 7 and the continuing success of Apple's iPhone, buoyed by its new availability to Verizon subscribers. Never has there been so much choice in the smartphone market. As a result, hype and overstatement have been the order of the day.
Throw away what you think you know about Internet Explorer -- because the just-released IE9 will turn it all on its ear. Think IE is sluggish? Think again, because according to SunSpider tests, it rivals or beats the speed demons Chrome and Opera. Believe that IE sports a tired-looking interface? No longer --- it now has the same type of stripped-down look that Chrome originated, and that the latest version of Firefox uses as well.
Some downloadable software is so good that you just have to grab it. Unfortunately, often you have to pay for it after you try it out. But every once in a while, a must-have program is totally free. Such indispensable, no-cost programs are the hardest kind to find.
Microsoft's recent deal with Nokia will put Windows Phone 7 on millions of Nokia mobile phones around the world. Microsoft in turn will shower billions of dollars on Nokia in marketing, engineering and other costs. The companies hope that together, they can make inroads into the mobile market that has increasingly become dominated by Apple's iPhone and Google's Android.
The Norton Mobile Utilities beta for Android is a useful but somewhat buggy suite of free tools that any self-respecting Android geek will want to download and test. To a certain extent, it's a proof of concept, because Symantec has not yet decided whether the app will ever become a full-blown product and, if it does, whether it will be free or for pay. Still, it's well worth the download.
Why was Eric Schmidt suddenly demoted as Google's CEO? There are as many opinions as there are analysts, but I think the reason is clear: Google is worried that it's suffering from Microsoft syndrome, and thinks having Schmidt step aside may be the cure.
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