Data mining by online merchants isn't just so Overstock.com can offer to sell you the same product you just purchased on Amazon. It has the power to make all our lives better! Orbitz, which makes online reservations for hotels and such, figured out that Mac and Windows users have different purchasing habits--and adjusted accordingly.
You know those completely implausible, unbelievably over-the-top scam emails spelling out some overwrought story about a deceased Nigerian prince, his massive fortune, and the lawyer (esquire, really) who needs your help to transfer the funds out of the country before they are seized by the government? One Microsoft researcher thinks these stories are unbelievable on purpose. Implausible stories drive away all but the most gullible recipients, he argues.
Microsoft, in a big one-two punch of mobile, followed up Monday's Surface tablet announcement with today's unveiling of Windows Phone 8. It's the followup to last year's "Mango" update, which we quite liked, but it seems like the updates here are much more for developers than users (i.e. native code sharing with Windows 8). But there's a redesigned Start Screen, actual support for SD cards, NFC sharing very similar to that in the new Samsung Galaxy S III, and support for more powerful phones with multi-core processors and 720p screens. Read more over at The Verge.
Right now in Los Angeles, curiously late in the evening, Microsoft is showing off its very first modern (read: post-iPad) tablet. The family will be called the Surface, the same as its conceptually-cool-but-practically-impractical tabletop touch computer. It's actually a very interesting product--the capabilities of a full PC, but thanks to Microsoft's dual-natured, touch-focused Windows 8, it works like a regular tablet as well. Here's what we know. [UPDATING]
Today at E3, the massive electronics expo that yesterday played host to Nintendo's announcement about the updated Wii U, Microsoft broke out an announcement that's really more about media--especially video--than games. Microsoft Smart Glass is a way to join all of your devices together: smartphone, tablet, and TV, all sharing media.
Planetary Resources, a mysterious organization whose investors include Google execs Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, Microsoft alum and astronaut Charles Simonyi, director James Cameron, "space visionary" Peter Diamandis, and Ross Perot, Jr., is planning to announce more details of the project this coming Tuesday. We'll be covering it, so we thought we'd give you a heads-up. It has something to do with space resources and exploration--its LinkedIn page says it "develops technologies and systems to enable low-cost commercial robotic exploration of the solar system," and cofounder Peter Diamandis has hinted at asteroid mining--but we don't know much more than that at the moment. Check in here on Tuesday (and, I mean, on Monday too, for other things) for the reveal.
If you want to buy a phone right now, and you're shopping based on quality rather than price, you have two choices in terms of size. You can get the iPhone, with its 3.5-inch screen, or you can choose from a handful of top-tier Android and Windows phones, all of which will have, at the bare minimum, a four-inch screen. Most of them will be bigger--4.3 inches is much more common right now, and an increasing number are even larger, including the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (4.65 in), HTC Titan (4.7 in), and the Samsung Galaxy Note (which, at 5.3 inches, is more lunchtray than phone).
The Nokia Lumia 900 is essentially a 4.3-inch version of the Lumia 800, a phone I absolutely loved in its 3.7-inch iteration (a Europe-only model). So reviewing the Lumia 900 presents an interesting question: with most other specs remaining constant, how does the experience of using a phone change when it grows to the size most phone manufacturers insist we really want?
Siri’s ability to speak and recognize various languages is impressive, but Microsoft is not to be outdone. Microsoft Research labs has demoed a new prototype software that could be the next big step toward a so-called “universal translator” device, one that can instantly flip one language into another and back again so a conversation can be carried on between two people even when neither can understand the other’s language.
One of the smaller rumors going around about today's Apple event predicts that Apple will release a new version of its little black set-top box, Apple TV. A sub-rumor suggests that this Apple TV might incorporate Siri, Apple's voice-command Lady of Wonder. Siri on Apple TV could legitimately be the first alternative way to control your TV that isn't actually worse than a black plastic stick with buttons on it.
Since Windows 7, Microsoft's been busily honing the interface for Windows tablets, which uses a bold bunch of squares and rectangles in flat neon colors and has been christened "Metro." Windows 8--undoubtedly the biggest change to the operating system in a few generations--finally brings Metro to the desktop. So how does it work with a keyboard and mouse?