Thursday, 14 June 2012

Android ICS already offers more than what is coming in iOS 6

It looks like Apple’s days of blowing people away with new features and functions has cooled now that solid platforms like Ice Cream Sandwich and Windows Phone exist.
Apple officially announced iOS 6 yesterday and while it is a welcome update for iOS that I look forward to installing on my iPad 3, most everything Apple revealed can already be done today on Ice Cream Sandwich Android devices.
Apple does a good job of taking existing technology and features and making it more user friendly (they did it with iOS 5 last year), but ICS took Android a long ways and the experience on the HTC One X is fantastic.
Apple stated there are over 200 new features in iOS 6 and we will have to wait until the fall to see everything. Developers will be loading up beta versions soon so we will see some more discussions on features over the next few weeks and months.
They did reveal several major features and functions at WWDC, so let’s take a look and compare them to what we see with existing Android ICS. You can check out the table below that summarizes the differences, followed by more lengthy discussion and my opinions. Don’t forget that Google revealed ICS last year and is likely to show off Jelly Bean this month at Google I/O.

Apple iOS 6 Android Ice Cream Sandwich
Maps Turn-by-turn, 3D Turn-by-turn, walking/biking/transit, 3D, offline coming
Voice control Siri Google Voice Actions, S-Voice on SGSIII
Travel and reward card management Passbook 3rd party apps
Email Unique account signatures, limited attachment support, VIP filtering Unique account signatures, complete attachment support, VIP filtering, full Gmail client
Service sharing Facebook and Twitter Virtually all cloud and social services
Notifications Reply with text, Do Not Disturb, Shade Reply with text, Do Not Disturb (3rd party), Shade, premium experience
Video calling 3G & WiFi FaceTime, Skype, Tango others Google Talk, Skype, Tango, others
Video stabilization Yes Yes
Maps: Apple has always included a Maps application, based on Google Maps. As we discussed in May, Apple has decided to finally put some effort into navigation (powered by TomTom) and will be rolling out their own mapping solution in iOS 6.
In typical Apple fashion, the application has lots of attractive visuals with good functionality. It is their first attempt so there is still work to be done, but the new Maps does provide for turn-by-turn navigation, traffic monitoring (crowd-sourced like Waze), location-based integration in apps, and some great lock screen capability.
There doesn’t appear to be any offline navigation support, which is something that Google just recently announced for Android devices.
It also appears iOS owners will lose bicycle, pedestrian, and transit functions seen in Google Maps on iOS 5. Google Maps Navigation is a tried and tested service and application that will be tough to beat.
Siri: Siri looks to finally be getting some functionality that it should have had at launch, including the ability to launch apps, real-time sports, movie, and restaurant information and integration, and support from auto manufacturers for true eyes-free usage.
As a sports fan, I liked the demos at WWDC. Then again, I follow the sports I enjoy most with dedicated apps anyway so it isn’t as critical as it was made out to be. These functions are great to see in Siri, but I wonder how many people will use it past the week or two novelty period. I only used Siri on my iPhone 4S for reminders after the novelty wore off and rarely see people talking to their phone so am still not yet sold on the practicality of Siri.
Passbook: Passbook looks like it takes the best from multiple 3rd party apps like TripIt, Starbucks, Flixster, and more to provide one location for storing airline info, store reward cards and more. It is not a payment system application, but seems like it could move that way in the future.
Mail enhancements: I almost fell on the floor laughing when I saw how excited people were about multiple email signatures coming to iOS. You can now have a different signature for each email account on your iOS device, WOW :)
You can also now finally add attachments from within the email client rather than having to go to the Photos app and then create an email. However, attachment support is still extremely limited due to Apple’s closed approach to the file system. You can attach just photos and only one at a time.
iOS 6 will also include a VIP mailbox so you can filter people’s email that you really want to see. One thing I love about HTC Sense is this same ability to have groups that let you quickly filter your email with the touch of a tab. Again, nothing new or groundbreaking for Android, but nice to see Apple catching up.
Facebook: iOS 5 brought some basic Twitter integration to the platform and now we see Apple including some Facebook support. Windows Phone launched with Facebook support and Android is the king of sharing capability with the most extensive support for sharing across a large number of services.
Notification center: Like other devices have for years, iOS 6 will now enable you to quickly reply with a text message when a call comes in and you don’t want to answer it. There will also be a Do Not Disturb feature that seems very handy.
If you do a quick search in the Play Store you can find several of these same type of apps available now for Android devices. I never gave much thought to it, but I might just try a couple of these out and find one for my HTC One X.
FaceTime over 3G: Since the launch of FaceTime on iOS, people have been asking for the ability to use it over a connection other than WiFi. Other developers provided this capability through their apps, Skype, Tango, and others. Apple will be making carriers happy in iOS 6 if people use it a lot with restricted wireless carrier data caps. Again, it’s another feature that was expected and good to finally see, but I prefer using Skype since it is able to be used with more people across all platforms.
Video stabilization: You will find that iOS 6 helps you reduce shaky videos, something seen on other platforms for some time.
Some other interesting new features include:
  • Guided Access enhancements that will help those with challenges use iOS devices.
  • Game Center improvements. (I never use this so maybe the improvements will have me finally trying it out on my iPad.)
  • Full screen landscape support in Safari. (will help with iPad browsing for sure.)
  • Safari browser syncing. (It’s teason why I use Chrome on my computers and HTC One X.)
  • Photo stream sharing.
iOS 6 is a welcome update for iOS fans. iOS 5 Apple borrowed quite a bit from multiple platforms and improved the user interface elements. It looks like they did the same again, but ICS already has some solid user interface elements for these features and the differentiation isn’t as great as it used to be.
I find it hilarious that Apple compares the percentage of iPhone owners using the latest OS with Android when there is just a single device released from Apple each year and many released with Android. If there was just one Android phone, then of course everyone would be on ICS. It’s a dumb comparison made to slam Android.
With Google likely to reveal Jelly Bean later this month at Google I/O I can understand why analysts predict iOS to continue with a fairly flat rate of adoption. Microsoft may also hit it out of the park with Windows Phone 8 and hopefully we see some of what they have coming soon at their June developer conference. I personally find the HTC One X to be a better piece of hardware than the iPhone 4S and with the customizations and useful glanceable widgets I intend to update my new iPad to iOS 6, but skip picking up a new iPhone when they are announced.
It depends on how compelling the new iPhone hardware is, but iOS 6 isn’t compelling enough itself to sway me from Android or Windows Phone.

State-sponsored attackers' using IE zero-day to hijack GMail accounts

Microsoft’s advisory speaks of “active attacks” and follows a separate note from Google that references the IE flaw “being actively exploited in the wild for targeted attacks.”
Microsoft and Google have separately warned about a new Internet Explorer zero-day being exploited to break into GMail accounts.
The browser flaw, which is currently unpatched, expose Windows users to remote code execution attacks with little or no user action (drive-by downloads if an IE users simply surfs to a rigged site).
Microsoft’s advisory speaks of “active attacks” and follows a separate note from Google that references the IE flaw “being actively exploited in the wild for targeted attacks.”
A source close to these investigations confirm that these attacks prompted Google’s recent decision to warn GMail users about “state-sponsored attackers.”
On Twitter (see image), several users have publicly reported seeing the message atop their GMail inboxes.
Microsoft’s explanation of the issue:
The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user views a specially crafted webpage using Internet Explorer. An attacker would have no way to force users to visit such a website. Instead, an attacker would have to convince users to visit the website, typically by getting them to click a link in an email message or Instant Messenger message that takes them to the attacker’s website. The vulnerability affects all supported releases of Microsoft Windows, and all supported editions of Microsoft Office 2003 and Microsoft Office 2007.
The vulnerability exists when MSXML attempts to access an object in memory that has not been initialized, which may corrupt memory in such a way that an attacker could execute arbitrary code in the context of the logged-on user.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Is Google A Monopoly Or Do People Just Prefer It?

The Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece from Nextag CEO Jeffrey Katz, calling Google a monopoly and slamming the company’s business practices. This is nothing new, of course. We see these types of complaints all the time, and various government bodies continue to give the company a hard look.
The European Commission has even given Google a July 2 deadline to come up with changes to its search results. A Google spokesperson told WebProNews, “We continue to work cooperatively with the European Commission.”
Do you think Google should be regulated? Let us know in the comments.
Google, apparently recognizing the huge audience Katz’ piece was likely to find, decided to address the article in a blog post, and dispute six of the claims he made. Google SVP, Engineering, Amit Singhal took on the argument.
“Let me be very clear: our unpaid, natural search results are never influenced by payment,” Singhal writes. “Our algorithms rank results based only on what the most relevant answers are for users — which might be a direct answer or a competitor’s website. Our ads and commercial experiences are clearly labeled and distinct from the unpaid results, and we recently announced new improvements to labeling of shopping results. This is in contrast to most comparison shopping sites, which receive payment from merchants but often don’t clearly label search results as being influenced by payment.”
“As we’ve said many times before, we built search to help users, not websites,” he writes. “We don’t make changes to our algorithms to hurt competitors. We make more than 500 changes a year (each one scientifically evaluated) in order to deliver the most useful results for our users – and we now publish a monthly list of algorithm improvements. Every one of those changes moves some websites up and some sites down in the rankings, but the most important thing is that users are happy with the results.”
“Our algorithms are always designed to give users the most relevant results — and sometimes the best result isn’t a website, but a map, a weather forecast, a fact, a quick answer, or specialized image, shopping, flight, or movie results. And that’s not just Google; Bing, Yahoo and other search engines do the same thing,” he continues.
“All major search engines — including Bing and Yahoo — long ago evolved beyond the simple ‘ten blue links,’ and we believe that our users are often best served by providing better answers directly in search results,” he adds. “And if users don’t like our results, they can try Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, or even Google Minus Google.”
In the WSJ piece, Katz wrote, “Google should grant all companies equal access to advertising opportunities regardless of whether they are considered a competitor.”
Interestingly enough, I saw a Microsoft ad while searching through my Gmail earlier today. I saw one again in the middle of writing this article, while viewing an email about Google.
Look what I get when I search “search engine” in Google:
Google Search
Singhal addressed this part of Katz’ argument as well: “We don’t prohibit competitors from advertising on Google — in fact, many of our largest advertisers are also competitors. Our auction-based advertising system, which takes into account relevance and bids, is designed to provide a level playing field on which placement is not automatically awarded to the highest bidder.”

Saturday, 9 June 2012

FileMaker Pro

FileMaker Pro is a database application which allows user to modify the database by just dragging new elements to the layouts or forms. The application was developed for the Apple Macintosh and evolved from a DOS application. It is made available for Microsoft Windows and Mac operating system on 1992. 

FileMaker Pro is now available in FileMaker Pro 12 and advanced 12, FileMaker Server 12 and server advanced 12 as well as FileMaker Go 12 for iPhone and iPad. FileMaker Pro allows the user to create multiple tables in a single file. Users can even customized forms for data entry as well as reports for onscreen or printing. With FileMaker Pro, you can retrieve, store and organize data, maintaining the capacity to store large amount of file. The database application become known and used by many because it is user-friendly. Even those people who are not so familiar with computer can simple use the application just like computer experts. Thus, you don't need to be a computer developer in order to use FileMaker Pro. No need to have a particular training to use it. Also, it is easy to start with. You don't  need a lot of money to invest on this software. Even if you are having a small business or with little financial resources, you can still use the application. You can store information about your products, employee information as well as the expenses you made and the revenues you gain from the clients. You can also store client information on the FileMaker Pro.
Another advantage of using FileMaker Pro is that members in the organization can use a single FileMaker Pro database. When someone made changes on the data, all other employees can see the changes made. With this, efficiency could be increased in the company. FileMaker Pro is really enough for your company to
function daily because of its powerful database engine.
In summary, FileMaker pro is a database program that does not need any skills in programming before you can use it. Anyone can  use it. Users can simple point and click in order to create fields to hold the data. After creating the field, you can then arrange the data base on your preferences. Aside from all these, there are also additional tools available in FileMaker Pro for colors, drawings, borders and text. You can really customize your own layout because you can also add company logo through the insert picture command.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

It's war: Google + Quickoffice vs. Microsoft Office everywhere

Quickoffice may give Google a needed competitive hedge against Office 15 on Windows tablets and possibly iOS and Android devices.
Google Docs has made some inroads against Microsoft Office, but not nearly enough.
That’s no doubt a big reason for Google’s latest acquisition, Quickoffice, announced on June 5. Now the question becomes will the cross-mobile-platform productivity suite Quickoffice — give Google a better leg up against Microsoft’s Office? Quickoffice runs on iPhones, iPad, Android, Android tablets and Symbian devices. And Office 15, the coming version of Microsoft’s productivity app suite, will run on Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone and, perhaps soon the iPad and Android, too.
The Office 15 (a k a Office 2013, the public beta of which could arrive by mid-June) + Windows 8 one-two punch is expected to help Microsoft in the both the x86/x64-based and ARM-based tablet market.
The Office card is likely to be especially key to the coming wave of ARM tablets, as Microsoft officials have said previously that four Office 15 apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote) will be “included” with Windows on ARM — now known as Windows RT — devices. We still don’t know exactly what “included” means. Nor do we know whether these four apps will be full versions, local versions or maybe even remotely hosted versions. (I’m still thinking Microsoft is planning on some kind of OEM-pre-installed Starter-Edition type versions for Windows RT devices.)
On May 31, Morgan Stanley published a research report entitled “Tablet Landscape Evolution: Window(s) of Opportunity.” One of the paper’s conclusions: Microsoft has “shifted from a challenged to a best-positioned company in the tablet market, as Windows 8 with Office has the potential to drive market growth and share gains.” The authors continue: “Our survey suggests 25% of users expect to buy Windows 8 tablet and Office is a key feature, especially for those considering their first tablet purchase.”
It will be interesting to see if Microsoft provides its Windows 8 tablets with some breathing room by introducing Office 15 for Windows and Windows RT first, followed by iOS and possibly Android months later. Some inside and outside the company think this would be the smart thing to do. Others think that Office, and not Windows, has become the lead cash cow at Microsoft, and that Office shouldn’t have its priorities and strategies dictated by Windows any more.
There’s one other noteworthy tidbit in the Morgan Stanley paper which is related to Microsoft’s and, ultimately, Google’s future success with office suites on mobile devices. Morgan Stanley is predicting Microsoft will offer OEMs a bundle of Windows 8 and Office 15 for anywhere between $82 to $114 per copy for them to preload on new PCs.
Microsoft officials, unsurprisingly, won’t share their OEM price lists. But that range may not be far off the mark. One of my contacts the $50 price range (for an OEM copy) has been thrown around before with Windows 7 Home Premium, “so it stands to reason that Windows 8 is the same.” Throw in Office 15 for around $32 to $54 per copy if Morgan Stanley’s pricing is right, and you’ve got yourself a bundle!
Google may take the same approach it has been pursuing with Docs and Apps and simply undercut Microsoft to try to gain more of a foothold in the productivity suite space. But I’m thinking OEM preload power could still give Microsoft an advantage.
What’s your take?