Tech Sharing

Tech Sharing

Advertisement

Author Archive

A new password-free system is currently being tested by a small group. The project, which was launched by Google, aims to remove what is often the weakest link of any login system, the password, while providing an alternative secure login method that is less troublesome than the current two-factor authentication.

The system is similar to Account Key launched by Yahoo, and once you boil it down, it actually isn’t all that different from the two-factor authentication. Here is how it works: When you log into your account, rather than entering your password, you select a button that sends a push notification to your phone. You then select the push notification, open the app, which asks you if you are attempting to log in. Once you approve the log-in on your phone, the account opens in your browser.

But what if your device is stolen or if your password has been phished? According to Google, your lock screen or Touch ID should be more than enough to activate your phone (You do lock your phone, don’t you?). As a pre-cautionary measure, Google also advises that you sign into your account from another device and remove account access from the device which you no longer in your possession of.

If you haven’t done any Christmas shopping or would like to do more, Google is here to help. Most amazingly (and unfortunately for us), if you live in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, Brazil, or Mexico and have not subscribed to YouTube Red or Google Play Music, you can sign up for it and get a three-month subscription for US$1 (approx. RM4.31). For existing subscribers and those living outside of the countries listed, we’re out of luck.

Fortunately we’re not entirely left out. During this special holiday sale, every album on Google Play Music is going for half the usual price, and any movie rental from Google Play Movies will be 75 percent cheaper. Ebooks are “up to” 80 percent off, with the actual discount varying depending on the title. Minecraft for Android is also going for US$0.10 (or 43 cents for us), as well as “select” in-app purchases throughout Google Play getting a 90 percent price cut.

So if you’ve never done any shopping from the Google Play Store on your Android device, now’s as good a time as any.

960-apple-pay-to-cash-in-on-growing-chinese-digital-payments-market-in-2016

The race between Apple and Samsung in launching their respective mobile payment service is on.

According to The Wall Street Journal, people familiar with the matter claim that Apple will be launching Apple Pay in China by early February next year. Apple reportedly has signed deals with China’s big four state-run banks, which will allow Apple users to link the mobile payment service to their local bank accounts. Regulatory hurdles in the Chinese banking and e-commerce sectors may ultimately delay the launch before Chinese New Year 2016.

SamMobile reported last week that Samsung is planning to launch its mobile payment service, Samsung Pay in the UK, Spain and China by Q1 2016. As the Chinese market is the biggest in the world, having a head start is critical for both companies.

Apple Pay1

Apple Pay has been around for more than a year and Apple is said to be working hard on expanding its mobile payment service.

According to The Wall Street Journal, people familiar with the matter claim that Apple is in talks with several banks in the US to launch a person-to-person mobile payment service next year. It will enable individuals to transfer money between friends and family members with their iOS devices.

Based on current plans, the person-to-person mobile payment service works slightly different from Apple Pay; banks will not be charged for processing person-to-person payments. At the moment, no deals have been signed and discussions are still going on with regards to the technical implementation.

The Wall Street Journal suggests that Apple could tap into an existing system, ‘clearXchange’ which depends on checking accounts to transfer money via an email address or phone number. To make the process seamless for users, Apple could connect it to the Apple ID in the background.

The Wall Street Journal – “The service under consideration would allow consumers to zap payments from their checking accounts to recipients through their Apple devices. The service would likely be linked to the company’s Apple Pay system, which allows customers to make credit-card and debit-card payments with their mobile phones.”

 

microsoft-powerapps-preview-for-mobile-business-apps-available-now

Microsoft today launched PowerApps, a new service that allows business users to easily create a basic mobile or Web-based app without requiring codes.

Available in preview from today, the idea behind it is to take more business apps to mobile, instead of being tied to the PC as they have been traditionally.

Users can access data from cloud services like Office 365, Salesforce, Dropbox or other on-premises systems through PowerApps and use that information to create their app.

For example, if you export a file from Salesforce tracking employees performance, you could create an app to follow that, instead of exporting and analyzing a file every week.

PowerApps also comes with sample apps and templates, so users don’t have to come up with an a design or layout from scratch.

The apps are designed on a PC and can then be accessed on-the-fly through the PowerApps app for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Apps can be shared with other people through a URL link and they can collaborate on the project as well.

Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of app platform Bill Staples said in a statement today that the aim of PowerApps is to bridge the innovation gap in the business apps sector.

And while Microsoft may not be the first to come up with this idea, it’s already at an advantage as one of the most recognizable business brands in the world and as first choice for many in-office software around the globe.

The company has not released pricing information while the service is still in preview.

alibaba-drone

Is drone delivery the future of ecommerce? That’s an open question, but the concept looks to be taking a big blow in China this month, with authorities slated to roll out regulations that will reportedly ban urban drone delivery.

 

Currently, drones exist in a relatively unregulated space in China. But at the General Aviation Development Summit in Beijing last week, China Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) secretary Ke Yuyu revealed that a new set of draft regulations on drones are due to be released this month. These new rules have already been passed by China’s Civil Aviation Administration and are currently in the middle of other approval procedures.
As they stand, the regulations don’t look good for those who were hoping that drones would one day replace China’s fast-delivery bike couriers. Ke says the regulations would require registration and aviation authority approval for drones over 25 kg (55 lbs), and drones capable of carrying cargo or weighing more than 150 kg (330 lbs) would be subject to even more stringent restrictions. But passing those restrictions won’t change things for ecommerce players, because according to Ke the regulations ban drone delivery outright in congested urban areas.

 

These regulations haven’t been formally passed or even released yet, so it’s possible that Ke is mistaken or that the final draft could include changes. Certainly, ecommerce players with plans for drone delivery (like Alibaba) may want to lobby aviation authorities for looser rules. And of course, we still don’t know the specifics, so it’s possible the regulations sound harsher in summary than they are in actuality.

 

Whether they’re as harsh as they sound or not, the new rules likely aren’t a permanent ban. Instead, they’re more of a recognition that drone technology isn’t sophisticated enough yet. In its current state, drone delivery in urban environments could be dangerous due to the high number of obstacles and the high probability of people getting hurt if there is an accident. So while urban drone delivery will be banned for now, it might well be unbanned at some point in the future if authorities are convinced the technology is there to do it safely.

Tesla's Model S now has an autopilot feature. </br> Image Source: Tesla

Tesla’s Model S now has an autopilot feature.

For many drivers, getting from point A to point B can be a stressful affair. You have road hogs, slow drivers, those who turn without signalling, and most annoyingly, those who go 60km/h on the right lane of a highway. Thanks to Tesla though, driving may no longer be an annoying affair, because their autopilot feature could do it for you. See it in action in the Model S below:

For a more detailed look at the system, there’s the video below:

Screenshot-2015-10-22-11.24.42

While you’re still patiently waiting for Hyperlapse to finally arrive on Android, Instagram has decided to fill the void by releasing Boomerang, an app that lets you record one-second videos. Nothing more, nothing less.

At which point we should mention that Boomerang’s one-second videos aren’t technically videos, as they are actually composed of a burst of five photos, which are collated and subsequently played forwards and backwards repetitively to achieve a so-called ‘boomerang’ effect.

Because Boomerang doesn’t have a dedicated, self-contained feed, users will be required to share their GIF-like videos on Instagram, Facebook, or other social networking platforms. In fact, you don’t even need to create an account to use Boomerang.

Boomerang is currently available for both iOS and Android devices for free.

Image source: OneDrive.

Office 365 Home and Personal subscribers rejoiced when Microsoft announced that they will be receiving unlimited cloud storage as part of the package last year. More recently, however, the company has decided to rescind the offer.

 

Microsoft’s excuse is that some paid customers are taking their word that the storage is unlimited and is using it to its fullest potential, effectively using the space that they paid for.

 

“Since we started to roll out unlimited cloud storage to Office 365 consumer subscribers, a small number of users backed up numerous PCs and stored entire movie collections and DVR recordings. In some instances, this exceeded 75 TB per user or 14,000 times the average. Instead of focusing on extreme backup scenarios, we want to remain focused on delivering high-value productivity and collaboration experiences that benefit the majority of OneDrive users,” said The OneDrive Team in their statement.

 

The result is that there will no longer be unlimited storage for Office 365 Home, Personal, or University subscribers; 100GB and 200GB paid plans will soon be replaced with a 50GB for US$1.99 per month; and the storage space of free OneDrive users will be downgraded from 15GB to 5GB. These changes will take effect early 2016.

 

“OneDrive has always been designed to be more than basic file storage and backup. These changes are needed to ensure that we can continue to deliver a collaborative, connected, and intelligent service. They will allow us to continue to innovate and make OneDrive the best option for people who want to be productive and do more,” added The OneDrive Team.

 

In other words, Microsoft was not ready to put its money where its mouth is, and seeing a tech behemoth making ‘take backsies’ like this, unprepared to deliver what they promised, is a disturbing fact.

Opera recently announced the latest updates available for their data-saving web browsers for mobile. Both Opera Mini for Android and Opera Browser for Android will get new features for a better browsing experience.

Video compression – Opera Browser for Android

According to Opera’s blog, the new video compression feature helps the user shrink the size of online videos streamed your device. This means that videos viewed via the Opera Browser no longer use as much data or take as long to load, saving plenty of bandwidth and time.

To use this feature, simply update your Opera for Android app, and enter the settings menu to access the Data Savings category. Check the box that says Video Compression. The rest will be handled by Opera.

Download notifications and improved tab switching – Opera Mini for Android

Opera’s ‘lite’ browser, the Opera Mini for Android, now notifies you when you’re done downloading files via the browser. We admit it’s not that groundbreaking, but it is a nice add-on even for a browser designed for a trim web-browsing experience. Another user-experience enhancement is the improved tab-switching format. Users can stay on their current tab and open new tabs in the background, with an option to flit between tabs quickly. This new functionality is ideal for comparing different deals on separate e-shopping sites.

Finally, the Opera logo has been updated for these mobile browsers, and it’s now congruent with the desktop browser’s new logo as well. Opera’s last update – Opera 33 – focused on compressing data for faster surfing, and the update before that (Opera 32) was brought in to improve privacy for web browsing users.

Opera and Opera Mini: What’s the difference?

For the uninitiated, Opera has two stable browsers on the Android OS platform – Opera Mini and Opera for Android. The key difference between the two is their compression technology: Opera Browser gives the full web browsing experience where sites and images load as if the user is viewing them on a desktop, with an option to compress web pages up to 50 percent of their original size for saving on mobile data and load times. Opera Mini, on the other hand, is a cloud-based browser where all web browsing will go through Opera’s servers, and those servers will automatically compress the web page’s text and images, down to 10 percent of their original size.

The Opera Browser is what a typical person would use on a flagship Android smartphone; whereas the Opera Mini browser is suited for overseas travel, in situations where mobile data bandwidth may be limited or subjected to poor connectivity.