Friday, March 20, 2015

Microsoft Plans To Bring Siri Competitor Cortana To iOS Devices

Microsoft to put Cortana on Machine

Microsoft is now making its way towards advanced version of its competitor, Apple’s Siri researching from an artificial intelligence project known as `Einstein’. The company is running its personal assistant – Cortana on its Windows phone for around a year and would be putting the new version on the desktop with the forthcoming Window 10 somewhere this autumn which would be available as a stand-alone app that could be used on phones and tablets and powered by Apple’s Inc.’s – AAPL.O, iOS and Google Inc.’s GOOG.O Android, according to users familiar with the project.

Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research and part of the Einstein project, in an interview at the company’s Redmond, Washington headquarters, stated that `this kind of technology that can read and understand email will play a central role in the next roll out of Cortana which they are working on for the fall time frame’. Microsoft and Horvitz refrained from disclosing any plans to take Cortana beyond Windows. The idea of putting Cortana on machine with software from rivals like Google and Apple together with the Einstein project is not reported. The name Cortana is an artificial intelligence character in a video game series known as `Halo’.

`Artificial Intelligence’ Concept 

The `artificial intelligence’ concept is broad and computers and mobile phones for instance have already shown skill with spoken language scrutinizing through emails for data. Microsoft is of the belief that its work on search, speech recognition and machine learning will enable it to transform its digital assistant into the first intelligent agent which would be what user would require.

Siri by comparison is advertised as responding to request. Google’s mobile app that does not have Siri or Cortana has been offering limited predictive information cards depending on what the user intends to know. Earlier, Microsoft had made attempts in creating digital assistants without much success and Microsoft Bob which was released in 1995 which was intended to make the use of the computer easy did not come up with the desired results. Similarly the Office Assistant which was nicknamed `Clippy’ met with the same fate, a few years thereafter.

Cortana - Supportive Service

Horvitz had commented that `they are defining the competitive landscape, of who could provide the most supportive service that make life easier, keep track of things, that complement human memory in a way that could help them get things done. A monitor which stands outside his door known as `The Assistant’, showing a woman’s face which can converse with visitors has access to Horvitz’s calendar and can also book meetings.

`Lifebrowser’ runs on his desktop, which is a program that has the potential of storing everything from appointments to photos and utilises machine learning in order to identify important moments while a keyword search for his university professor could instantly provide photos as well as video from their last meeting. Cortana has the capability of telling a mobile phone user when he ought to leave for the airport several days after it has read the email and the user’s intention of planning a flight. Moreover it can automatically check the status of flights and determine where the phone is located using GPS as well as check the condition of the traffic.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Apple's 'Taptic Engine' and 'Force Touch

Apple’s MacBook – `Force Touch/Taptic Engine’

Apple has recently unveiled a new MacBook with `Force Touch’ track-pad and `Taptic Engine’. The updated track-pad features Force Touch pressure sensitive with Taptic Engine for vibration/haptic feedback. Repair experts from iFexit who had taken the new computer apart, found the close-up it provided on the new track-pad’s design, quite interesting.

Rumours are also circulating that they would also be making their way to the latest iPhone. Apple’s 13 inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display has come up with some updates together with the big Apple Watch and the new MacBook announcement. The details of the latest track-pad were partly disclosed on stage wherein Apple showed the part as a key feature in its new MacBook design video as well as the presentation.

In the case of the 13 inch Retina MBP, it is slightly different due to the fact that there is space to support a physical button style track-pad, similar to the one that ships in all other prevailing Mac laptops though it has the same combination of sound as well as haptics producing 100% accurate illusion of physical click when there is no actual click.

Track-Pad Controlled Through software

Matthew Panzarino had explained in his post that the new track-pad design does not actually move or tends to move on a microscopic sale but it feels like the existing clicky design though with a user-customizable amount of clickiness which is controlled through software.

iFixit’s ripping down of the computer indicated that the track-pad is supported by four spring mounts together with a panel on the underside which is not present on the latest version of MacBook though it does have the same Force Touch engine that is a series of wire coil covered around a ferromagnetic core, creating the vibrations which the finder translates as clicks.

iFexitpresumes that to vary the strength, Apple would selectively activate some or all four of the ferromagnetic cores inside the track-pad’s taptic engine and also notes that keeping in mind Apple’s assurance of no real movement going on here, the construction has no linear oscillators in the mechanism, similar to the traditional vibration feedback found on phone which is generally used. The updated sensors has the capabilities of detecting more than one kind of click wherein a light click could perform a single action while a harder click another and the threshold of how hard is a `hard’, the press could be adapted.

Touchpads – New User Interface Functions

To speed up the fast forward of video, one could press harder or `force click’ in order to pull up a definition of certain word. The force gestures are an addition to the standard multi-touch track-pad taps and swipes as well as intuitive which bodes well and according to Wall Street Journal, Apple is trying to integrate the force sensing in its iPhone and iPad next year after the introduction of the technology in its company’s smartwatch.

With regards to detection of pressure, iFixit presumes that they probably come through very small strain gauges which are mounted on flexible metal supports which read how much flex is experienced, translating the same into a read on how much pressure is applied. Before touchpads had emerged, individuals using the laptops had been using tiny joysticks which were serviceable after much practice and the first touchpads were great though they had to use separate mouse buttons since they could not register clicks.

Apple’s latest entry is an attempt to make touchpads less awkward and while laptops can register taps as well as detect multiple fingers at once, they have learned to measure how hard you press enabling some new user interface functions.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Outdoor Tech Chips Helmet Headphone

Outdoor Tech Chips Headphones – Reliable & Durable/Easy Controlling

An updated version of a well-designed simple solution in is the offering for enhanced wireless connectivity to your helmet, which could be helpful for snowboarders and skiers interested in listening to music and stay connected during their expedition on the mountain. The new invention has been designed for winter mountain sports wherein the Outdoor Tech Chips are compatible on any helmet which features an audio enabled liner while the headset are compatible with Siri.

 It features an integrated microphone for the purpose of dictating commands as well as making calls. Both the left as well as the right earpieces of the Chips headphones are essentially giant buttons and one cannot miss them while pressing on them even if one is warmed up with ski gloves. This season, the Outdoor Tech Chips had been tested by AppleInsider on a ski trip to Utah which was very impressive. Though a bit higher on the cost, the headphones tend to be reliable and durable with an easy of controlling the iPhone without the need of taking it out of the pocket or even exposing the hands in the cold mountain air.

Simple Design – Two Earpieces/Flat Cord – Giro Helmet

It features a simple design comprising of two ear pieces having a flat cord which connects the two and fits perfectly in a Giro helmet. It also has additional cord to provide free space ensuring that the ear pieces are located in a proper position. Once the same is dropped in the helmet and placed on the head, the button on the left has the capabilities of controlling the volume while the button of the right earpiece could be used to play or pause the music or answer call and hang up.

It is easy to press on the ear to activate these if the helmet tends to have soft ear-pads with space for headphones. The two buttons come with a little bit of learning curve, typical for Bluetooth headphones and on the left ear, it could press the button once to increase the volume while a double press could decrease the volume. This system works well when the need to lower the volume is to be done quickly since multiple presses could reduce the volume.

Best of Both – Personal Audio Choices

With regards to the right ear, on holding down the button it turns on the unit and a one press will start the music while another tends to pause it. If a call comes in, one press can answer the call and another will hang up. The use of both buttons is essential for activating Siri by pressing and holding the left button and then pressing the right button for Apple’s voice driven personal assistant. The Chips also tend to feature a headphone jack in particularly welcome inclusion in order that they could be used as wired to iPhone or otherwise according to one’s choice.

Thus the Chips provide the best of both for personal audio choices. Moreover the 3.5 mm headphone jack also serves as the charging port; where for recharging the Chips, it needs a unique headphone to USB cable.With regard to the sounds, the Chips are quite audible and can be heard even while flying down the mountain, though users are cautioned to listen to the music at reasonable level keeping in mind the surrounding on the mountain which is a matter of importance with regards to safety.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Apple Researching Device Waterproofing

Waterproofing – Future iDevices 

It was revealed that Apple has been researching on various ways to successfully waterproof the future iDevices somewhere in March 2012 where a silicon rubber seal was discovered. In 2013 the company revealed another creation related to waterproofing, using nano coatings.

Apple was granted the patent for waterproofing in 2014 which covered the use of glass filled nylon and today a new waterproof patent application from Apple was published by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office covering the use of a hydrophobic conformal coating designed to increase moisture resistance of electrical components, a feature which at times is attributed to active smartphone models that are marketed by competing manufacturers of smartphones.

Apple’s filing, as published by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for `Methods for shielding electronic components from moisture indicates a process for covering sensitive device components with the use of advanced vapour deposition technology together with protecting solder leads with silicone seals.

Devices not adequately Sealed/Mitigating Water Entry

In the present scenario, electronic devices have been taking priorities in the daily performances with the majority of the people relying on these devices for every function and carrying them along to locations where there could be instances of damages one of which could be damage through excess moisture especially during the monsoon season.

Most of these devices are not adequately sealed and could have chances of mitigating water entry through the openings which do not have a protective case to protect the device. The focus of Apple is in improving the moisture resistance of an assembled printed circuit board wherein in one embodiment, a system is set for applying a hydrophobic conformal coating to a printed circuit board or PCB.

This could include a way of depositing a hydrophobic conformal coating over an exterior surface of the electromagnetic interference –EMO shield together with the PCB by chemical vapour deposition – CVD operation. The EMI shield could also have openings on top of an electrical component over the PCB and thus the hydrophobic conformal coating could move through the openings to be received by the electrical component.

Hydrophobic Seal Around Electrical Connector 

Apple has come up with a method in creating a hydrophobic seal around an electrical connector on PCB which includes a way of configuring a silicone seal over the PCB in order to frame the electrical connector on the PCB so that the silicone seals shields a soldered part of the electrical connector. Besides this, the silicone seal also has an opening for the electrical connection placed inside.

As per the application it states that the layer could be in the thickness of one and ten microns, an advantage for small form factor portable devices with less internal space. It is yet unclear whether Apple would be employing a more aggressive moisture protection for future iDevices though as the company moves in the direction of wearable devices with the Apple Watch, users would be expecting some amount of waterproofing from the devices.

As CEO Tim has revealed recently that the Apple Watch has been designed with the least minimal level of splash resistance, it could be worn even at the time of taking a shower.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

How to Transfer Any Media File to Your iOS Device

Waltr – New Mac App - Softorino

More progress and headway in technology has given rise to the use of Mac app Waltr wherein the user can now transfer any form of video or music file to an iOS device without the use of another iOS app. Waltr is a new Mac app from Softorino whichhas been designed for easy upload and conversion of any music or video file to an iPad or an iPhone format for the purpose of native playback that supports a large options of media file forms.

 This includes MP3, MP4, AVI, WMA, CUE, M4R, M4V, AAC, FLAC, ALAC, KUV and much more. It also lends support to file type which is not usually compatible with iOS4 and includes AVI, MKV, FLAC and CUE and these could be played in native Movie as well as Music apps on iOS. Operating Waltr is easy and simple.

On closing iTunes the user could plug on to the iPhone or iPad in a Mac and then open the Waltr app where the iOS device along with its storage space which is available is portrayed at the top of the app wherein files could be dragged over to the blank space in the app to be transferred to the iOS device. As soon as the file is dragged and placed in the Waltr app, the upload gets started most of which is very quick, probably a few seconds.

App - Possibility of Transferring any Form of Video/Audio File

When the file has been transferred to the iPad or the iPhone, it can be accessed in the native Music or Movies app on the device. The overall Waltr process is quite simpler than converting through a separate app and then again uploading through iTunes.

Waltr is an amazing app with the possibility of transferring any form of video or audio file irrespective of its format to an iOS device having playback of the file in Apple’s Video and Music apps when compared to similar apps which may need the installation of a companion iOS app on a device, it has limitation to access of files within the app – and limiting access to features in some cases like AirPlay.

Result of Technique Used – No Quality Loss

On completing the download of the app, the user is then asked to disable iTunes’ automatic sync feature and once done the only thing needed is to get connected to the iOS device to Mac through USB. Thereafter, the drag and drop approach is taken by Waltr in order to transfer the content to the iPhone of iPad and on dropping a file, irrespective of its format, the Waltr app makes the file compatible with iOS and then uploads the same to the device.

Assurance has been provided by the marketing manager, Josh Brown, that the results of the technique used by the company, is no quality loss. Waltr is now made available as an online download for OA X 10.9 or new with a free trial of 14 days and thereafter it will prompt the user to purchase a license for an amount of $29.99. Users of Windows could sign up for an opportunity to take part in the beta of Waltr for Windows.