A couple of announcements surfaced today, one each for both of the smartphone heavyweights - Apple's iPhone and T-Mobile's G1. If you own, or are considering, one or the other, keep reading.
Amazon Updates Kindle App for iPhone
Score a win for iPhone owners, who now have an improved Kindle app to mess around with. Now in version 1.1, the updated release addresses a few customer complaints, one of them being that users can now read in either portrait or landscape mode. And to make reading easier, you can now change the background and text color combination. Other changes include tap support for turning pages, and multi-touch pinch to zoom in on images.
G1 'Cupcake' Update Pushed Back Until June
G1 owners who have been anxiously awaiting the much anticipated 'Cupcake' update (Android 1.5) will have to wait a little longer. What was originally supposed to be an "early May" release looked like it was finally going to start trickling out this week in the U.S., but word has come down that the update has been delayed at least one more week.
"We are working diligently to get Android 1.5 out as soon as possible, while aiming to ensure a consistent, positive experience for our customers," a T-Mobile forum moderator announced. "We're finalizing this build this week to ensure optimal functionality and smooth delivery. Therefore, the rollout schedule has been reset by approximately a week, and we expect all G1 customers will have the update by early June."
Barring any last minute changes, Android 1.5 will add on-screen keyboard support with auto-correction, text prediction, user dictionaries, and third-party keyboard layouts, live folders, folder shortcuts for YouTube favorites, starred contacts, MPEG4 and 3GP video playback, stereo Bluetooth, a new Linux kernel, browser enhancements, and several other goodies.
Softpedia reports that pirated copies of Windows 7 will be provided with security updates, update rollups, and even service packs. What is Microsoft thinking? Is Redmond promoting piracy?
The idea of providing security and other updates to pirated copies as well as legit copies of Windows might seem crazy, but here's the reasoning, straight from Paul Cooke, director of Windows Client Enterprise Security:
Keeping a machine up to date is one of the first steps in helping ensure that they remain reliable, compatible, and safe from threats when they are online. Some of the most famous incidents of malicious software infection have come after security updates were publicly available from Microsoft - Blaster, Zotob, Conficker and Sasser, just to name a few. Rest assured that we at Microsoft are committed to making sure that security updates are available to all of our users to help ensure a safe online experience for everyone.
Note that Cooke is laying the blame for many recent security problems where it belongs: on users and companies who will not upgrade their software to block such threats. By continuing the recent policy of allowing users of non-genuine Windows to receive security updates, Microsoft is saying, in effect, 'don't blame us if unpatched systems are compromised.'
However, don't think that Redmond's turning a patched eye to either casual piracy or software counterfeiting. Pirated copies of Windows 7 won't be eligible for some of Microsoft's goodies, and Softpedia points out that counterfeit copies of Windows often come with a "free" bonus: malware.
For your chance to sound off on security for software pirates, join us after the jump.
(Disclaimer: Tomorrow, in this case, refers to any point after today. After all, Valve’s not so great with providing release dates, so – surprise, surprise – these items will be ready when they’re ready.)
After a recent patch saddled Team Fortress 2 with a mysterious 50-slot “backpack” – promising further instructions at a later date – players were left wondering what strange turns lied ahead for Valve’s cel-shaded shooter. Well, check your answers and make sure your name’s on the paper, because time’s up. In an interview with Shacknews, Valve’s Robin Walker divined Team Fortress 2’s future. The gist of it all: hats soon and RPG mechanics later.
Obviously, the backpack holds things, as are backpacks’ wont. (Though, in a game where sandwiches can be considered accomplices in murder, it’s always good to check.) Apparently, the deceptively deep storage device will play host to all sorts of items, beginning with your non-equipped head-slot items. For now, hats – scheduled for release before the Sniper update -- won’t do much more than give your opponents some stylish new targets, but Walker held out hope for more down the line.
“Right now they're all cosmetic only, but it's obviously more interesting if they become more than that, so we're still thinking about that. Shipping them without gameplay changes seems like a good way to tackle the first problem, which is to ensure we don't break our silhouette based class identification. It also starts us on another path that we're interested in, which is allowing players to have some control over their appearance.”
As for items with actual stat bonuses – as well as some fly threads for the remainder of your character’s bland, sensually unappealing form – Valve plans on taking things one step at a time depending on player feedback. If the wheel needs a +12 damage modifier, it’ll get one. Otherwise, why reinvent it?
Other important tidbits: Unlockables won’t be coupled with achievements anymore, more “Meet the” videos are still on the way, and deleted backpack items won’t be gone forever following the next patch.
Information overload, right? Well, process it and then come back. In the meantime, we’ll be redrawing this comic with TF2 characters and drinking in the sweet taste of possibility. Valve, please. We need this.
If you haven't been impressed with Microsoft's latest browser -- or just haven't felt compelled to give IE8 a spin and kick its tires -- you're not alone. Despite a significant speed increase, better web compliance, and a handful of new features, IE8 hasn't been attracting the kind of response Microsoft had probably hoped for, at least not if market share data from Net Applications is any indication. At last count, IE8 made up for a little over 4 percent of the browser market share, taking away from IE7 at a conservative pace. The solution? Throw IE8 into the Automatic Update queue as a 'High Priority' update.
"Last week, we released IE8 via Automatic Update to users still running pre-release versions of IE8 (Beta 2 or Release Candidate 1). The goal was to make sure users who chose to install IE8 have the latest up-to-date version," Microsoft wrote in a blog post. "Starting on or about the third week of April, users still running IE6 or IE7 on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, or Windows Server 2008 will get will get a notification through Automatic Update about IE8."
Microsoft went on to say that the rollout will start with a narrow audience and expand over time to include its entire userbase. IE8 will be labeled as an 'Important' update for those running Vista and Server 2008, and 'High Priority' for XP users. However, IE8 won't automatically install; users will still have to opt-in.
It's been a little while since we've done a hodgepodge roundup of awesome freeware and open-source software. So brace yourself. The following free software applications have absolutely nothing in common with each other, save for them all being free and beneficial to your geek life in some capacity. We're looking at version-tracking applications that help keep all of the different installed software on your PC as up-to-date as it can be, as well as an easy-to-use display calibration app and a whole hodgepodge of must-have PC utilities (arranged neatly via a single installer application, to note).
But that's not all! To check out all of the other helpful applications we've got our dirty little fingers on, you're just going to have to click through to the full article. That's right. In Hollywood, we would call this a "teaser." But really, these apps are useful enough that you should have already scrolled past this introductory rambling and clicked right on the "I want more! I want more!" link--even though it's actually called "read more." You get the idea.
Hot on the lickety-quick heels of the Scout, TF2’s Sniper class is next in line for an update. And if you thought the Scout’s new toys weren’t a big enough deal, you’ll be happy to hear that the Sniper update will be – at the very least – .0001% larger.
"It's actually shaping up to be the largest TF2 update yet, with multiple new maps and a bunch of gameplay tweaks," wrote Greg Cherlin on Valve's Team Fortress blog.
As with other class updates, the update will include unlockable items and a set of class-specific achievements. Maybe a new hat, or support for a large, plastic rifle peripheral, we’re hoping.
But what if you really, truly loathe TF2’s suavest psychopath, and just don’t think your current arsenal allows you to kill him hard enough?
"We've got another update in the works that should be done before the Sniper, and that one will include some new content for all classes," Cherlin explained.
See? Everybody wins. Valve understands the meaning of a good compromise. Giving everyone everything they want – through head-perforating violence!
It's been about six weeks since Redmond rolled out the Release Candidate for Vista SP2, and now the RTM Escrow build is available to Microsoft Connect beta testers, DailyTechreports. To make sure everything's working, the RTM Escrow build includes both slipstream and standalone installers.
If you find an unofficial source for something claiming to be the RTM Escrow build, the build string is 6002.17043.090312-1835. Typically, the RTM Escrow build is the last step before a public release, probably in April.
Check out our complete Vista SP2 coverage here. Have you tried this new build? Join us after the jump and give us your thoughts.
If you use Twitter, chances are good that you’ve noticed a small change on your home page lately. Right under the “Home” tab, it used to say “@replies.” The only issue with that was that it would show tweets that began the message with your name, and left out others were you may have been referred. The new change fixes all that.
“The @Replies feature was introduced because we noticed lots of folks putting the @ symbol in front of Twitter usernames as a way of addressing one another,” wrote Biz Stone, a co-founder of Twitter on their official blog. “However, folks started getting more inventive as they often do. Now people include @username mentions in the middle of tweets as a way to simply reference another account. For example: I'm flying @jetblue to Boston. Also, folks reference multiple accounts in a single tweet like this: I'm flying @jetblue to Boston with @ev @crystal and @goldman.”
For most users, this change probably won’t be a game changer. But, for folks that use this as a communication tool it is a genuinely nice change that can help them see just who’s saying what about them!
Windows Home Server's latest update, Power Pack 2, is now available via Windows Update, the TechNet Windows Home Server Team Blog reports. WHS users must have Power Pack 1 installed before they can receive Power Pack 2. If you missed Power Pack 1, get it here.
Power Pack 2 fixes a number of irritating bugs left over from Power Pack 1 and the original release, and adds new features. For an overview of what's new in Power Pack 2, join us after the jump.
Just when you might have thought it was safe to start using USB flash drives at work again, the third, and by all accounts, most fiendish version of the Conficker worm that's infected millions of PCs already is set to attack on April 1st, Ars Technicareports. Conficker.C's designed to hide itself even more thoroughly than its older siblings, using tricks such as:
Inserting itself into as many as five Windows-related folders such as System, Movie Maker, Internet Explorer, and others (under a random name, of course)
Creating access control entries and locking the file(s)
Registers dummy services using a "one (name) from column A, one from column B, and two from column C" method
To find out what happens when Conficker.C strikes, join us after the jump.