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Car Makers to Offer iPhone Platform

On Monday, Apple announced that it had formed partnerships with several well-known car manufacturers to provide an in-car entertainment system known as CarPlay. With CarPlay, drivers and passengers in a car would be able to use a touchscreen console, as well as buttons on the steering wheel, to control music, hear and compose text messages, make calls, listen to voicemail messages, and even get directions and make use of other apps commonly used by iPhone users.

What Vehicles Will Have CarPlay?

The first cars to come with CarPlay will debut later this year from Volvo, Ferrari, and Mercedes-Benz. Also, further on down the road, manufacturers such as Honda, GM, Ford, BMW, Hyundai, and Toyota will release models featuring this in-car entertainment system.

This comes after a partnership revealed in January by Google stating that Audi, GM, Honda, and Hyundai would be releasing vehicles with an Android operating system later on in 2014.

Why the Push for In-Car Entertainment Systems?

These in-car entertainment systems were designed to make driving much safer for the driver and passengers in the car. One of the leading causes of distracted driving accidents involves the use of cell phones. Apple and Google feel that they can help cut down on these accidents, and possible deaths, by developing a system that makes it very easy and safe to use all the features of a phone from a console or through voice-activated commands so that the driver doesn’t have to take their hands off the steering wheel.

For more information about this story, please visit: http://money.cnn.com/2014/03/03/technology/apple-cars-iphone/index.html

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Roku Streaming Stick Makes its Debut

The Roku streaming stick has been recently revamped to be compatible with any TV that has an HDMI input, and it now includes a remote that works via Wi-Fi direct. This stick features all of the functionality of a full-size Roku box, but it’s about the same size as a standard USB drive.

So, what does the streaming stick look like? It features Roku’s signature purple color and is designed to be attached to any spare HDMI port on your TV. It’s a little over 3 inches in length and it has an indicator light, and a tiny button to reset the stick if the need ever comes up to reset the device. This micro-USB port lets you power the device by connected it to a port on your TV that is not already in use, or you can make use of the included power adapter that will come along with the streaming stick.

Does it Sound Familiar?

The streaming stick idea may sound similar to Google’s $35 Chromecast device. However, with the streaming stick from Roku, you will get a standard remote with an onscreen guide that you can use to help you pick out shows on Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, and so on. It also is hidden behind your TV so that you don’t have to see it every time you are trying to watch something – this makes it unlike Chromecast.

Roku’s streaming stick has 1080p output, dual-band Wi-Fi support, and it has an internal chip which is similar to the one in Roku 1. It may not be as fast as Roku 3, but it has many interesting and useful features that a lot of TV viewers will find handy.

Learn more about Roku’s streaming stick technology by visiting: http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-media-receivers/roku-streaming-stick-2014/4505-6739_7-35835337.html

Windows 9 - 5 Things Consumers Want

While Windows 8 offers a ton of features and is full of great ideas, many computer users still feel that this popular operating system is lacking in functionality. Here are the features that consumers hope that Windows 9 offers:

More layout flexiblity - Windows 8 has "snap widgets" which can serve the same function as older versions of Windows in desktop mode. These widgets make productivity easier with tablets since users can go back and forth through windows. However, computer users are wanting to be able to divide the widgets into smaller tile which could be arranged in an easier to read fashion on their screens. Also, they would like to be able to take an app into full screen mode and back to regular mode again with ease.

Desktop only mode - Windows 8's tile display is great for a regular laptop. However, when you are trying to use the tile display on a desktop computer, it can seem kind of clunky and slow. Computer users are wanting an easier to use desktop mode for Windows 9.

Trackpad consistency - Often times, computer users complain that the trackpad is not consistent across all Windows 8 devices and this can make the operating system difficult to use. While movement is quick, users stll wish for more consistency between products.

Better display handling - One of the most noticeable problems with Windows 8 is taht it has very inconsistent display settings. When you are connected a PC to a larger screen, tiles don't look all that great in Windows 8. Microsoft users want the display to look crisp and clear across all devices, regardless of the screen's resolution.

More interaction with Windows Phone and Xbox - Windows 8 and Xbox One are built with practically the same software base. They also share a lot of the same services and utilities, and users want to be able to use their Xbox One apps and features on their Windows phone or computer, and vice versa.  Being able to easily navigate between all Windows products is what computer users are eagerly awaiting.

Microsoft Taking Windows XP Off Life Support

 

Microsoft recently announced that on April 8th of this year, they are going to stop creating security and software updates for Windows XP. Also, they will discontinue their tech support for this popular operating system. Research has shown that nearly 29% of computer users around the world still use Windows XP, but this doesn't mean that their computers will simply stop working on April 8th. Instead, their computers may be much more prone to malware and security hacks since Windows will no longer be releasing security updates for the system. Also, Microsoft has said that they will no longer address major holes in the software.

Antivirus software will continue to fend off some of the malicious attacks that these computers may see, but Microsoft's security updates were what provided one of the most crucial lines of defense. For most XP users, this means that they will probably look toward updating their operating system with something newer. Users are still able to get Windows Vista, 7, or 8, and eventually Windows 9 will be released for purchase. Unfortunately, most older computers which are running on XP will not be able to update to Windows 8 or higher due to hardware limits within the systems. Microsoft has an upgrade assistant which will help computer users to determine what version of Windows they need, as well as whether or not their current computer will be able to handle the update.

Looking Ahead

Research has also shown that while nearly 20% of corporate computers run Windows XP, only about 6% of them will still be running on XP come April 8th. Many computer users are using this opportunity to purchase new desktop PCs, laptops, and software. Also, nearly 95% of ATMs around the country currently run off of XP, and only about 15% of them will be updated by April 8th - so be on the lookout for which ATM you will be using in the next couple of months!

Microsoft had orginially wanted to kill off XP in 2010, but many computer users were still using this operating system so they pushed the kill date back a few years.

 

Chromebooks Catching on in 2014

Chromebooks are laptops that make use of Google's Chrome operating system. Reportedly, more models are expected to be released in 2014 to meet consumer demand. These laptops are designed to be affordable for the average user, and a lot of schools around the world are using them more and more as an alternative to expensive computer labs filled with desktop PCs.

New Players in the Market

Asus and Toshiba have reported that they will enter the market this year with new Chromebook models, according to a news statement released last week from Digitimes. The Toshiba Chromebook model was actually leaked prematurely when a review was released of its specs. Also, Dell will be offering a new Chromebook later on this month for the first time.

How Popular are Chromebooks?

Samsung's Chromebook seems to be permanently at the top of Amazon's bestselling laptop list, and a report from the NDP Group in December states that these Google-based laptops are accounting for nearly 1/5 of the sales in commercial laptops. This growth in popularity has spurred HP to put more of an emphasis on their line of Chromebooks, and they are now offering both a 14-inch and an 11-inch model for consumers to pick from.

These laptops are very popular because of their price, as mentioned earlier. Most of them sell for around $200-$300 and can be used for browsing the Web, e-mails, and they also feature Google Docs and Google Drive.

 

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