Summer Tech Roundup: A Whirlwind!
In technology this summer, rumors and new products have been flying around the World Wide Web, creating one of the most action-packed summers yet. From the iPhone 5 to the Windows Surface to the Samsung Galaxy Tab, manufacturers are rushing to get ahead of the competition. Here’s our take on what we learned over the summer.
Four letters: WWDC (Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference). This was Apple’s largest event of the summer, where the newest Mac laptops, iOS, and Mac OS X were introduced. Here’s a look at what went on.
Retina displays, with such a high resolution you can’t see the pixels. Apple seems to be focusing on this with a ferocious intensity, as they have now updated the iPhone, iPad, and now MacBook Pro to support these beautiful displays. The difference is not noticeable unless you look at an older screen and you suddenly realize just how spoiled you’ve become with such a detailed display. This technology is now out for a premium price, but it may just be well worth the cost.
iOS 6. The operating system that iPhone runs is getting a major update with the release of the iPhone 5. With a completely new maps app (voice navigation, 3D buildings, flyovers, crowd-based traffic), new settings, FaceTime over 3G, and a revamped Siri, this OS definitely brings a lot to the table. Some other highlights of iOS 6 are its new apps, namely Passbook. Passbook allows you to store all types of tickets in one app, then scan them at a movie theater, airport, or other venue. Expect to see more and more companies moving their ticketing systems over to the digital world with this app. Last, but not least, Siri comes to the new iPad (iPad 3).
Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8) is the newest version of the Macintosh operating system. It includes a slew of new features, including full iCloud support (Pages, for example, now syncs automatically with iCloud), notifications from iOS, and the notes app. The old IM application has also been completely changed, turning into “Messages.” You can now send the messages between all of your iDevices, as well as with other IM systems. If you have an Apple TV though this update gives you something very special: wireless mirroring to your Apple TV (making this OS a must-have for all users with an Apple TV). At a price of $20, Mountain Lion is definitely a good value, providing you the components Lion left out.
Still waiting for the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini? Fear not. They will most likely be released early September, according to CNET and other sources.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean came out this summer, and it brings with it a bunch of updates to accelerate your user experience. One of the most interesting features, Google Now, introduces a card-based system for notifications. For example, the “Transit” card opens when you are near a public transit station and displays the next train or bus that will arrive. Among other minor features, a small but useful update helps Android determine whether the Wi-Fi network you are connecting to is not as reliable as cellular data, preventing you from using a slower Internet connection.
Flying under the radar, Google has recently been working on an update to their whole maps program. With new, spectacular 3D buildings and vector-based graphics, the program has moved in line with today’s technology needs. Along with these updates, you will now be able to use Google Maps and Street View indoors for your navigation needs. Expect to see these new features in all Google products, some of which are already available.
In the Web-streaming arena, Google’s Nexus Q is getting ready to hit the market. This device will allow you to stream media from Google’s own content libraries, along with other Web-based streaming services.
YouTube is also working on a new update for all of its users. Now, captions will be easier than ever to edit, thanks to a summer intern at Google.
The big day is in sight! Microsoft releases Windows 8 this fall, with a whole new user interface. Microsoft’s new tablet, the Surface, will be arriving with the new OS.
The new version of Windows is all about the “cloud.” SkyDrive is baked-in, providing cloud sync support right from the get-go. An app store will also be available, giving users a new, safer way to download programs. Also on the revamp list is Microsoft Word, with updates such as built-in syncing. Perhaps the biggest change is the whole style of the OS: everything is built around Microsoft’s phone interface, originally called “Metro”, or ribbons (like in Microsoft Office). This brings the simplicity of a tablet to the PC. However, bringing an interface designed for touch to the mouse may confuse standard PC users.The Surface, Microsoft’s new tablet, is the company’s most recent endeavor into hardware, whereas it usually resides in the software department. The Surface pulls a cue from the “Smart Cover” of the iPad in its sleek design and auto-wakeup on open, but also sports a physical keyboard which interacts with the Surface. Another important feature of this tablet is its integration with large corporations; it fully supports Microsoft Office, whereas Apple’s iPad works off of a less centralized system.
by Dean Papastrat ’15, Online/Tech Editor