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2
May

Microsoft unveils the Surface Laptop, a Windows 10 S device looking to take down the MacBook


Microsoft has unveiled the Surface Laptop at its New York education event, a new Windows 10 S hero device, designed for students, but likely to be loved by everyone.

The Surface Laptop comes with a 13.5-inch 2256 x 1504 resolution PixelSense display with a 3:2 aspect, fully touch enabled with 3.4 million pixels, for a sharp picture, with Microsoft saying that this is the thinnest LCD touchscreen you’ll find in any device.

As it comes with touch, you also get support for Surface Pen, meaning you can craft, sketch, annotate, edit and do whatever else you want, essentially, without having to smear the display with your fingerprints.

The emphasis here is on manufacturing skill, with metal, plastic and the Alcantara fabric deck coming together to give you a premium product.

Meet the new Surface Laptop. Performance made personal. pic.twitter.com/dk9BB0IPwL

— Surface (@surface) May 2, 2017

It’s powered by the latest Intel Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs, but impressively, Microsoft says you’ll get 14.5-hours of battery life from the Surface Laptop. It’s also claimed that when the lid is closed and the laptop is in standby, it will drain no battery.

That means that if you forget to charge your battery it doesn’t matter, because you’ll be able to open it days later and find the battery in the same state where you left off, rather than flat. Putting that into context, Microsoft said that this has more battery than any MacBook, the obvious rival for the new Surface Laptop.

It will be available with 4, 8 or 16GB RAM, option of 128, 256 or 512GB SSD for storage, and it comes with a whole range of ports including a 3.5mm headphone socket, USB 3.0, SD card slot and mini DisplayPort.

The Surface Laptop launches on Windows 10 S, but can be updated to Windows 10 Pro if you’d prefer. It’s also compatible with existing Surface accessories, like the Dial.

The Surface Laptop will be available from $999 for the Core i5 version running all the way up to an awkward $2199 for the top i7 version. It will be on pre-order from 2 May and generally available from 15 June.

2
May

Samsung Pay: What is it, how does it work, when is it coming to the UK?


Samsung Pay has been active in several countries, including the US and South Korea, for a while and is soon to hit the UK too.

It is a platform that allows you to pay for goods and services simply by waving your Samsung device near a cash register instead of swiping a credit card or doling out your payment information, a bit like Apple Pay or Google Pay on rival phones.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Samsung Pay: What do I need?

The payment platform is baked into Samsung Galaxy devices – from Galaxy S6, Note 5 and up – so it’ll work with a compatible device. You can also use it with the Gear S3 smartwatch.

You simply download and install the Samsung Pay Android app on your compatible phone, register desired cards and accounts and it will draw directly from these chosen sources when making a payment.

There are also plans for a Samsung Pay Mini app, it is said, which will work with other Android devices.

Pocket-lint

Samsung Pay: How does it work?

When using a phone: by swiping up from the bottom of the display (on either the sleep or home screens) the Samsung Pay app will launch and your default card will appear along with a message to authenticate a payment with their fingerprint. If a different card is needed, a simple left or right swipe will bring up others stored in your phone.

Once the payment has been biometrically authorised (hence compatibility with the latest devices only, as these have fingerprint scanners) the phone tells you to tap it onto the contactless payment reader and bingo, a payment is made via NFC (near field communication).

Samsung Pay: More than NFC

But Samsung Pay offers more than just NFC. In an attempt to spearhead the mobile wallet space, while simultaneously taking on Apple Pay, Samsung acquired LoopPay – a startup that invented a mobile wallet technology called MST (Magnetic Strip Technology).

MST allows a contactless payment to be made with terminals that do not feature NFC readers, which opens up a lot more retailers to the payment tech. It can also send the payment information to conventional terminals in stores that have the old-fashioned magnetic strip instead. Samsung told us during a demo that this covers the vast amount of payment terminals in the world.

Pocket-lint

A two-step payment process works like so: LoopPay’s app manages and securely stores all your payment cards (including credit, debit, loyalty, and gift cards) on a mobile device, while the LoopPay device (LoopPay Fob, ChargeCase, Card, or CardCase) processes your payment at the checkout as if you had swiped your card like usual.

What’s more, there is no danger of paying twice as the phone will prioritise an NFC signal if it finds one, while MST is passive and will only be utilised if no other contactless payment signal is found first.

Samsung Pay vs Apple Pay: What’s the difference?

Apple Pay employs an NFC chip into its smartphone, just like Samsung. Apple has steadily bulked its range of partners that accept Apple Pay and most recently included support for US federal payment cards.

The biggest difference between Apple Pay and Samsung Pay is that Apple Pay is accepted at fewer registers because it doesn’t include MST. Samsung Pay also has the potential of being accepted at 30-million merchant locations around the world, though both payment platforms have lined up several partners to back their payment systems.

Samsung Pay: Compatible banks and service providers

In its US guise, Samsung Pay has lots of available providers. Visa, Mastercard, American Express, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citi, US Bank, and PNC are the majors, along with a long list of additional providers. Furthermore the MST technology enables Samsung Pay to support private label credit cards from key partners like Synchrony Financial and First Data Corporation.

Samsung’s service is similar to Apple Pay in operation, in that different banks need to confirm their compatibility. When Apple Pay launched in the UK it took some time for all the major banks to be on board.

At present, rumours suggest HSBC, Nationwide and AMEX are on board for a UK launch, but we’ve not heard of any others.

Pocket-lint

Samsung Pay: Payment limits

The payment limit is set by the bank or vendor, not by Samsung, so is different in different regions – not a fixed £20/£30 maximum per transaction, as with contactless cards.

But if you need to pay for an item above the set limit, the app will simply request you to enter a PIN code to confirm for the larger amount.

Samsung Pay: How secure is it?

In terms of security, Samsung told Pocket-lint that not only are details protected by Samsung’s Knox real-time hacking surveillance and rooting prevention, but no card details are stored on either a Samsung server or the device itself.

Just like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay uses tokenisation. Card payments are made secure by creating a number or token that replaces your card details. This token is stored within a secure element chip on your device, and when a payment is initiated, the token is passed to the retailer or merchant. The retailer therefore never has direct access to your card details.

In addition Samsung Pay offers ARM TrustZone to further protect transaction information from attacks.

When will Samsung Pay launch in the UK?

Samsung Pay is already available in the US, South Korea, Spain, China, Thailand, UAE, Sweden, Hong Kong and Switzerland.

There is currently no official timescale for a UK rollout of Samsung Pay, but rumours – based on Samsung’s own customer services – strongly point to a 16 May 2017 launch.

2
May

What is Microsoft Windows 10 S?


Microsoft has announced a new version of its Windows 10 operating system called Windows 10 S.

Announced at the company’s 2 May event focused on education, the company plans to double down on Windows by offering this new version that offers a range of advantages to users in education.

However, when using Windows 10 S, you probably won’t know that there’s any difference to Windows 10 Pro, apart from the different stock wallpaper.

Windows 10 Student? 

Windows 10 S is described as a fully-functional version of Windows that is designed to run smoothly on all hardware. Microsoft hasn’t revealed exactly what the S stands for, but says that its evolved from features that teachers have asked for – hence the education tie-in.

Those things include things like faster log-in, better battery life, the ability to run full desktop apps, easy management across large numbers of devices and software that only runs verified apps.

Windows 10 Sandboxed? 

That’s the big catch with Windows 10 S: it’s designed to only run verified apps from the Windows Store. You will not be able to download apps online and install them, so this version is sandboxed. 

That means it’s potentially more secure for groups of users, but it also means that Microsoft knows exactly what software it’s going to be dealing with which should mean that power demands can be matched, without some scrappy rogue app sitting in the background eating power and hogging resources.

If a person using Windows 10 S tries to install an app from outside of the Windows Store, it will be stopped, but you’ll then be offered an alternative that’s from the Windows Store, so verified by Microsoft.

Windows 10 Speed?

Microsoft has demonstrated that a new user logging on to a Windows 10 S will be able to get into the PC faster than a standard Windows 10 Pro PC. The aim here is to ensure that students are able to get to work with minimal delays.

There aren’t any hardware restrictions on Windows 10 S either, as it’s designed to run across a full range of devices.

What about Office 365 on Windows 10 S?

Yes, you’ll be able to install and run Office 365 on Windows 10 S, so users will get access to the essential tools for productivity. Microsoft has also confirmed that the full Office 365 will be available through the Microsoft Store and as a sweetener for education users, Office will be free. 

If you’re looking to buy a Windows 10 S device for normal daily use, it looks like you’ll have to pay for Office 365 separately.

Can you upgrade Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro?

Yes, you can, which suggests that these are very close in terms of the actual software running the show.

You’ll be able to upgrade a Windows 10 S device to Windows 10 Pro with just a few clicks and an update. That will remove the restriction on app installs.

This maybe an attractive option for a customer who finds they need an app that’s not verified by Microsoft so isn’t accessible. This will cost $49 for individuals (UK price to be confirmed), however, for those using Microsoft Intune for Education to manage devices, you’ll be able to update to Windows 10 Pro free. 

The idea for Intune users is that if there’s a specific piece of specialised software that you need in a class or laboratory for example, you’ll be able to change the relevant computer to allow that.

Microsoft has also confirmed that education users will be able to move devices from Windows 10 Pro to Windows 10 S.

What about third-party devices on Windows 10 S?

Microsoft is working on compatibility with a wide range of third-party accessories and devices, because you’ll have to have drivers signed by Microsoft to be able to use them with Windows 10 S. 

There may be some holes, but as Windows 10 S is brand new, we don’t know where those might fall.

How much will Windows 10 S cost?

You’ll be able to get PCs running Windows 10 S from as little as $189, but there’s no word on whether these are limited to education or the wider public.

Microsoft has also announced the Surface Laptop, a premium take on Windows 10 S designed to rival the MacBook. This will be launching on 15 June, offering plenty of power and high-quality Surface design, but is priced at $999.

2
May

Engadget giveaway: Win a Samsung Galaxy S8+ and Spigen cases!


Samsung’s latest phones seems to be a hit, with pre-orders reaching record levels for the company. Both the S8 and the S8+ have a smooth elongated exterior for easier gripping, but that’s not to say these handsets don’t obey the laws of gravity. To help keep Samsung’s latest safe from harm, case maker Spigen has provided a variety of protective shells for every eventuality, from light weight to heavy duty for both the S8 and S8+. This includes the company’s popular Neo Hybrid with a subtle herringbone pattern on the back, as well as clear and even sparkly cases for those with a little flare. This week, Spigen has provided us with a powerful Samsung Galaxy S8+ (for AT&T), along with an assortment of cases and screen protectors for one lucky winner. All you need to do is head to the Rafflecopter widget below for up to three chances at winning one of Samsung’s latest smartphones and a Spigen safety package to keep it protected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Entries are handled through the Rafflecopter widget above. Comments are no longer accepted as valid methods of entry. You may enter without any obligation to social media accounts, though we may offer them as opportunities for extra entries. Your email address is required so we can get in touch with you if you win, but it will not be given to third parties.
  • Contest is open to all residents of the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding Quebec), 18 or older! Sorry, we don’t make this rule (we hate excluding anyone), so direct your anger at our lawyers and contest laws if you have to be mad.
  • Winners will be chosen randomly. One (1) winner will receive one (1) Samsung Galaxy S8+ smartphone (AT&T), five (5) Spigen protective cases and two (2) protective screen films.
  • If you are chosen, you will be notified by email. Winners must respond within three days of being contacted. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen. Make sure that the account you use to enter the contest includes your real name and a contact email. We do not track any of this information for marketing or third-party purposes.
  • This unit is purely for promotional giveaway. Engadget and AOL are not held liable to honor warranties, exchanges or customer service.
  • The full list of rules, in all its legalese glory, can be found here.
  • Entries can be submitted until May 3rd at 11:59PM ET. Good luck!
2
May

Strava wants runners and cyclists to be bloggers too


Strava wants to be more than a simple tool for tracking your runs and bike rides. Much of the experience is focused on the “Feed,” a place where you can share your training sessions and accomplishments (and view those recorded by other people). Normally, these bite-sized posts are limited to a small map, some basic stats and a short caption. Now, Strava is introducing “athlete posts,” which are essentially full-blown blog posts. For now, the feature is exclusive to 36 Strava-approved athletes, however the company says it will roll out to the rest of the community “later this summer.”

Athlete posts can be about almost anything. You could use them as a diary, chronicling your progress as you train for a gruelling half marathon. Alternatively, you could use them to pose questions, share gear recommendations and workout routines. The posts can include photos too, making it easier to explain good posture or convey the euphoria of climbing up a mountain. Morphing Strava into a fitness-first social network isn’t the most original idea, but it could work — it’s that sense of community, after all, that has encouraged so many people to keep fit.

2
May

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop arrives on June 15th for $999


If you like the Surface Laptop and its combination of portability with upscale design, you can do something about it very quickly. Microsoft is taking pre-orders for the Surface Laptop today ahead of its release on June 15th. Prices start at a relatively reasonable $999 for a platinum-colored model, although you definitely won’t get a monster machine for the money: that base machine includes a Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM (really, in 2017?) and a 128GB solid-state drive. You’re clearly paying for the 13.5-inch touchscreen more than you are the underlying performance.

We don’t have full pricing available as of this writing, but there will be a higher-end Core i5 model with 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and the full range of color options (burgundy, blue, gold and platinum). And if you just have to get a Core i7, you’ll have the choice of two platinum-hued models: one with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, and an all-out version with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. And don’t forget, the Surface Laptop runs Windows 10 S out of the box. You may be shelling out for an upgrade to full Windows 10 (it’s free in 2017, $49 afterward) if you want to run apps beyond those in the Windows Store.

Much like other Surface PCs, then, this is still a premium system — you’re just paying less than you would for a Surface Book. That’s not necessarily a problem if you’re interested in the touch technology or the craftsmanship, but there are definitely lower-cost options if you’re just looking for a reasonably fast and eye-pleasing ultraportable.

Check out all the news from the MicrosoftEDU event here.

Source: Microsoft

2
May

YouTube’s latest redesign puts added focus on videos


Approximately 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Soon, its desktop website will be getting a makeover to make combing through all those cute cat clips a bit easier.

Google announced on Tuesday that it is refreshing the look of its desktop site by applying its material design aesthetic to the site, basically flattening the UI. “We want to make content the star,” Fred Gilbert, Head of User Experience at YouTube, said during a recent interview. “Everything else should recede from that.”

home-before.jpghome-after.jpg

That means the grey background behind the video lists will be going away, the link text is switching from blue to black and the thumbnails themselves are being enlarged. You’ll also see less emphasis on the left-hand navigation bar. The YouTube logo and home buttons are shrinking and the subscription and library sections have been streamlined.

What’s more, the language options at the bottom of the page have been moved to the user drop down menu, in its place you’ll instead get even more videos. A nearly limitless number of them in fact because the site is implementing infinite scrolling. Even better, YouTube is also testing a feature that users have been clamoring for for years (and recently uncovered): Dark Mode! Now you won’t burn out your retinas while trawling YouTube in a dimly lit room.

channel-before.jpgchannel-after.jpg

Channel pages are also going under the knife. The recommendation bar that used to live on the right side of the page has been hidden so that the video lists now stretch across the full width of the page. The header section will also span the breadth of the window with a more prominent channel icon and subscription button.

But don’t get too excited, this will initially be a very limited release. YouTube is just looking for feedback on the new design at this point and expects to further tweak the experience before releasing it to the general user population. “It’s still early and there are still things that need to be done but we do want to hear [the users’] feedback,” Gilbert explained. If you want to take a look at the redesign for yourself, head over to youtube.com/new.

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2
May

Facebook is serious about playing games on Messenger


Facebook has rolled out plenty of games on its Messenger platform over the years, but it’s ready to deploy even more. Today, the company has announced that it’s expanding the reach of Instant Games to even more users around the world. Additionally, the company is now ready to launch the richer gameplay features it first announced at F8 a couple of weeks ago. Think: turn-based games, leaderboards and tournaments. Depending on the title, you could even see the occasional “game bot” pop up to either cheer you on or notify you of additional options.

Some of the first games to have these new features include Zynga’s Words With Friends, which is getting turn-by-turn embeds. There’s also Blackstorm’s EverWing, which utilizes a game bot. These are just two of the 50-odd games that are now available for Messenger, a big improvement over the 17 or so that debuted a few months back. With chatbots, businesses, Stories and games, Messenger is so cluttered these days that you’d be forgiven if you found it nigh-unusable (in which case, we’d probably suggest Messenger Lite as a chat app alternative). These games and features will roll out to both iOS and Android over the next few weeks.

2
May

Republican Senators outline anti-net neutrality legislation


Utah Senator Mike Lee introduced a bill Monday aimed at nullifying the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules. “Few areas of our economy have been as dynamic and innovative as the internet,” said the statement. “But now this engine of growth is threatened by the Federal Communications Commission’s 2015 Open Internet Order, which would put federal bureaucrats in charge of engineering the Internet’s infrastructure.”

The bill is primarily aimed at stripping the internet of its status as a public utility, returning its status to that of an “information service”, and preventing the FCC from changing the classification back in the future. The Senate Republicans might not have to be so worried: the FCC’s new chairman has already outlined similar plans to curtail recent net neutrality decisions.

Like Senator Lee, FCC boss Ajit Pai wants to do away with how net neutrality rules are enforced. His plans to dismantle net neutrality would turn the internet back to an information service classification, which would reduce regulation. It would also remove the “internet conduct standard” which let the FCC investigate zero-rating schemes that exclude certain services from monthly data allowances.

Senator Lee added that his “Restoring Internet Freedom Act” (which he’s introduced once before) would put a stop “to the FCC and the Obama administration’s unauthorized power grab over the Internet.” According to The Hill, the senator’s bill is unlikely to receive support from Democrats.

Via: The Hill

Source: US Senate

2
May

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop doesn’t need gimmicks to be special


Microsoft has tried hard to reshape what a notebook could be over the past few years. But, it turns out, not everyone wants a computer that can double as a tablet. So with its latest device, the Surface Laptop, Microsoft is completely embracing the notion of a traditional notebook. There aren’t any gimmicky features this time around — like the Surface’s Type Cover and kickstand, or the Surface Book’s detachable display. But Microsoft didn’t need one.

It’s a very nice laptop! That’s the gist of it. The Surface Laptop is basically Microsoft’s direct competitor to the MacBook Air and lower-end MacBook Pros. It’s thin and incredibly light — but then, so are plenty of ultraportables these days. What makes it special are Microsoft’s many other design touches. The case is made out of smooth metal that simply feels great. It’s a well-balanced and solid-feeling machine all around. And the keyboard area is draped in Alcantara, a comfortable cloth-like material commonly seen in cars, which makes it ideal for your wrists.

Speaking of the keyboard, it feels similar to the Surface Book’s, but it’s even easier to type on. The large trackpad is also one of the smoothest I’ve seen on a Windows PC. I didn’t have much time to stress the Surface Laptop, but it had no problem juggling a few web pages and loading up a 4K YouTube video. That, by the way, made the Laptop’s 13.5-inch screen shine. It’s bright and colorful, just like the displays on its Surface siblings.

My main takeaway: I loved touching and holding the Surface Laptop. And I can’t wait to do it again.

I only wish Microsoft had done away with the proprietary Surface power connection and went with USB-C instead. Port-wise, you only get one USB 3.0 port and a mini DisplayPort connection. There’s no card reader slot either, so you’ll have to get used to carrying a hub around if you use multiple accessories. A single USB-C port would have at least given you a simple way to charge it.

The Surface Laptop is also Microsoft’s flagship Windows 10 S device, its stripped down operating system meant for schools. In my brief hands on time, it felt like typical Windows, except without the ability to run legacy apps. But unlike Windows RT, Microsoft’s ill-fated ARM operating system on the original Surface and Surface 2, Windows 10 S can easily be upgraded to support any app. Surface Laptop owners will be able to upgrade their devices for free this year, and for $49 afterwards, from the Windows Sotre.

While I loved the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, each of them came with their own compromises. The Surface Laptop feels like, well, pure laptop. It’s a machine you can easily flip up and start working anywhere. And with an expected 14.5 hours of battery life, it should last you well beyond the work or school day. (Yes, we’ll definitely be testing that.) Mostly, I’m impressed that Microsoft managed to wow this jaded tech reporter with what’s basically just a notebook. But what a notebook.

Photos by Edgar Alvarez.

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