Apple and Fitbit cause a surge in smartwatch sales

Smartwatch sales have been improving in the last quarters. According to Strategy Analytics, Q3 2018 saw annual sales increasing 67%.

Despite not being the “hit” analysts predicted them to be when they were launched for potentially being similar to smartphones, the last generations of smartwatches are showing a strong presence on the market. This has put smartwatches at the top of the wearables segment, even surpassing smart bracelets, which are cheaper and have less features.

Apple’s Watch and Fitbit’s Versa lineups were the ones responsible of the surge in sales. We also have to mention the improvement of Samsung’s Galaxy Watch. The wearable brand Garmin rose slightly, but it still lags behind other companies. Continue reading

Chrome 71 will block websites that show “abusive ads”

Google is stepping up its fight against abusive ads on the internet. From Chrome 71 onward, Google will block websites with this type of ads.

Web ads have a bad reputation. What should be (and what really is for some) a legitimate source of income a website can depend on to stay afloat has been messed with by some that use “abusive ads.”

Google has specific rules against this type of ads, but some sites are simply not complying with them. Abusive ads include ads that trick users into thinking they are system notifications or fake messages so users click on buttons that do not do what they are supposed to. An example is an exit button that automatically redirects users to another page to steal their personal information, carry out a phishing scam or prompt malware downloads.

Starting with Chrome 71 (the stable version will arrive in December), the browser will completely get rid of web ads that fail to comply with the company’s rules, giving the websites a 30-day window to act once they have been flagged. Before any changes are made, webmasters can check if their websites have ads that activate Google’s filters by using the Abusive Experiences Report in their Google Search Console.  Continue reading

Android 1.0 and the platform’s first phone turn 10

A day like today, ten years ago, the first Android version was launched and the first Android phone, the T-Mobile G1 (internationally known as HTC Dream), was announced. It might not have seemed important back then, but Google’s platform has turned into a tech giant in just a decade.

In July 2005, Google acquired a small California-based company called Android Inc., which received funding from Google and produced software for phones. It was there where it all started. Rumors about Google’s interest on making its way into the phone market were circling in the following months until November 2006, when the company officially unveiled Android.

The system’s official announcement was as important as the introduction of the Open Handset Alliance the same day. The Alliance is a group of big hardware, software and telecommunication companies led by Google to develop phone standards. Android, the group’s first product, was dubbed as the “first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices.”

Google was capable of convincing manufacturers and operators of the advantages of a Linux-based open-source system that is also royalty-free, flexible, updatable and customizable, making it ready to compete against Apple’s first iPhone announcement that made a revolution. Beyond Android’s specs, the industry’s support was key for the platform’s success. Continue reading

Google Yeti: the game streaming service is real

Google Yeti is real. A Chromecast-related code might have confirmed the subscription-based game streaming service that was unveiled in February.

The open-source browser development is a reliable source to get a glimpse of “secret projects” Google is currently working on. The discovered code shows the need to fix the audio and video sync issues experienced with Chromecast, Google’s official streaming service. This is a must for a streaming service, especially one focused on gaming.

This is a technical piece of information that fails to provide details of the service, but “people behind Yeti” knows about it, according to comments on the code. The existence of a dedicated device that works closely with Chromecast has also been confirmed.

We cannot rule out the launch of a more powerful “gaming device” for Google Yeti. It would be surprising if such device worked with Chromium (therefore with Chrome). This might shake the multimillion dollar video game industry. Continue reading

Chrome OS now runs Linux apps on the stable channel

Yesterday, Google rolled out Chrome OS 69, the latest version of the OS based on GNU/Linux (Gentoo) and Chromium.

Chrome OS has the a lot of the same features and novelties of Google’s Chrome web browser, so the first thing we notice is the Material Design 2.0 interface, which gives the OS a really modern and attractive look. Additionally, another novelty is that running GNU/Linux apps is now possible on the OS’ stable channel that focuses on cloud storage.

This means it is not necessary to use developer tools starting with Chrome OS 69 to be able to have support for GNU/Linux apps. Regular users can now do so freely. However, even if it does not require switching channels, it does not mean the support is enabled by default. Not every chromebook is supported because they need a virtual machine. An example of this are BayTrail-powered computers for which the support is not available. Continue reading

PCI Express: a single bus is the PC’s future

PCI Express is an In/Out bus that is an essential part of every PC’s current architecture. It is more commonly used for GPUs and can be used for putting network and sound components, and storage units like the fastest SSDs on the market to replace hard drives and SATA SSDs.

PCI Express (you will see it as “PCI-E” or “PCIe”) is used both for the internal connection of chipsets on the motherboard and the connection of external GPUs on the respective slots. The most widely used version is the 3.0, although the 4.0 and 5.0 versions (which are delayed) will improve performance and turn the standard into a single bus that will be the future of the PC. We will go over the features of the interface, the existing types and its future.

What is the origin of PCI Express?

The PCI Express standard was developed by PCI-SIG (PCI Special Interest Group), an organization formed by 750 members representing every major tech company on the industry. The organization’s objective was to develop a single standard to replace previous buses like ISA, AGP and PCI (on which PCIe is based).

PCIe provides an essential advantage over PCI because it supports point-to-point topology, full-duplex and serial links. Basically, each single PCIe port and its installed cards can get the best performance out of the bus over the slower and saturated PCI in the case of multiple masters.

PCIe 3.0 is the latest update on the market and the one you can currently find when you buy a motherboard. This is a major improvement over PCI 1.0 because it quadruplicates the data transfer up to 8 GT/s; its total bandwidth up to 126 Gb/s (15.8 GB/s); and its bandwidth per lane up to 15.8 Gb/s (1969.2 MB/s). Continue reading

Microsoft launches Office 2019 for Windows and Mac

Office 2019, Microsoft’s locally installed office suite, is now available for Windows and Mac, although it is only available through commercial volume licensing as of now. The business and personal versions are expected to be available in the coming weeks.

When it was announced at the IGNITE event last year, Office 2019 was a surprise because we all thought Microsoft would finally go for the cloud-connected version of the office suite, called Office 365. This version has yielded great results in the last three quarters, topping professional cloud services with 100 million active users per month across the commercial versions and another 25 million in terms of data consumption in 2017.

Microsoft wants to cater to businesses and regular users who want locally installed software on their PCs without leaving room for other alternatives like LibreOffice 6. Office 365 works well, but maybe it is not the time to cancel the rest of the versions while the transition to the cloud is not completed yet.

What does Office 2019 provide?

The new version of the most popular office suite on the market is based on the features added to Office 365 ProPlus in the last three years. It also has the security updates and bug fixes released since the launch of Office 2016. Office 2019 features apps for word processing, Word, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint slides, data base, Access, and other tools that make up the office suite like Outlook, Project, Visio and Publisher.

As for the new features, Office 2019 has features on locally installed apps, like Morph and Zoom for PowerPoint, new data analysis tools and PowerPivot enhancements for Excel, Focused Inbox for Outlook and the new Read Aloud and Text Spacing tools for interacting with content on Word. We will publish a special article with novelties when the client version is launched.

As with previous versions, not every app of the suite will be available for the Mac version. Project 2019, Visio 2019, Access 2019 and Publisher 2019 will only be available for Windows. Extra features like OneNote will be available for all users.

Another novelty is that Office 2019 will be exclusive to Windows 10 and the upcoming Windows Server 2019. We ignore the technical reasons for this but we do know the commercial reasons.  The decision has a clear effect on Microsoft’s intention to support Windows 10 at all costs, and we have seen this happening with exclusive components that are not part of Windows 7, like DirectX 12, Edge, Cortana, support for last-gen processors, VR devices, Windows Mixed Reality and some others.

The options for the rest of Windows systems are Office 2010, 2013 and 2016 with extended support until 2020, 2023 and 2025, respectively, as well as the cloud-connected version (Office 365) which runs on every system. As for non-Microsoft options, we have Google Docs/Apps and the free LibreOffice 6, of course.

Office 2019 is available for volume license customers, whereas the business and personal versions are expected to be available in the coming weeks. We are also waiting for the launch of professional apps like Exchange Server 2019, Skype for Business Server 2019, SharePoint Server 2019 and Project Server 2019.

Malware is not only on the rise on PCs and phones: there are three times more threats targeting the Internet of Things

When we talk about malware or cyberattacks, we only tend to think about PCs or phones. They certainly are the most affected since they are the most widely used devices, which is why cybercriminals target them. However, said threats are not exclusive to these devices. Malware threats targeting the Internet of Things have grown exponentially, affecting a lot of us given that we use more devices as time passes by. We will provide some advices to protect ourselves.

There are more malware threats targeting the Internet of Things

Such threats have grown three-fold in comparison to last year. According to stats from Kaspersky, over 120,000 malware attacks affecting Internet of Things devices have been detected.

What devices are those? They are mainly routers, printers, TVs and even smart washing machines connected to the network. We already know there are now more and more appliances that can be connected in some way to the internet to make everything easier. Continue reading