Microsoft Sway Preview Now Available for Everyone

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Did you know Microsoft is working on a PowerPoint alternative of its own? The company first announced Sway back in Nov., but hid its new presentation software behind a long wait list. Now, the Sway Preview is finally available for everyone.


Latest Windows 10 Leak Reveals Cortana Integration, New Xbox App


Another pre-release Windows 10 build has leaked out, revealing a number of new features that Microsoft is reportedly planning to announce in January. In addition to the long-awaited Cortana integration, there’s a brand new Xbox app.

Mobile Software

iOS 8 Now Installed on 63% of All iOS Devices

Last time we checked, iOS 8 adoption had just passed the 50 percent mark. Now, a little over a month later, Apple’s new mobile operating system is still chugging along.

iOS 8 is now running on 63 percent of Apple’s mobile devices, according to the latest numbers released by the Cupertino company. Meanwhile, iOS 7′s share of the pie has dropped to 33 percent—down from 43 percent in late Oct. Finally, just four percent of iOS products are still using an even earlier version of iOS.

Mobile Software

iOS 8.1.2 Released, Here’s What Changed

Apple released iOS 8.1.2 on Tuesday. The update doesn’t appear to be that major just yet, and Apple says you should notice bug fixes and a solution to a “problem where ringtones purchased through the iTunes Store may have been removed from your device.” Apple said you can restore those ringtones by visiting from your phone.

The update is relatively small, coming in at about 25MB, and you should find it on your iPad, iPhone and iPod touch devices now. To update manually, head to Settings > General > Software Update.


Apple Hosting “Hour of Code” Workshops Next Week on Dec. 11

Apple, Microsoft and a handful of other tech giants launched Hour of Code in 2013 to spur student interest in coding and computer science. Now, a year later, the program is kicking off again starting next week.

Apple announced its Hour of Code schedule on Thursday, with events taking place at every Apple Store on Dec. 11. Each location should have some sort of workshop that you can sign up for right now, while some are also offering special events. For example, Apple’s SoHo store in NY will host Jocelyn Leavitt, the CEO and co-founder of Hopscotch, an app designed to teach kids about coding.

Of course, Apple isn’t the only one hosting Hour of Code workshops. The company notes that roughly 62,000 events are set to take place around the world next week, so there should be something for everyone. Hit the source links below to sign-up for an Apple event or head to Hour of Code’s website to see what else is out there.

Business Software

Microsoft Finally Patches 19-Year Old Windows Security Flaw

Microsoft on Wednesday is officially patching a bug that existed in its Windows operating system for 19 years, according to a new report from IBM’s Security Intelligence arm. The security flaw had been present in every single version of Windows since Windows 95 was released, IBM said, noting that the bug was complex and rare.

“The bug can be used by an attacker for drive-by attacks to reliably run code remotely and take over the user’s machine — even sidestepping the Enhanced Protected Mode (EPM) sandbox in IE 11 as well as the highly regarded Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) anti-exploitation tool Microsoft offers for free,” the security team explained in a recent blog post. ”Typically, attackers use remote code execution to install malware, which may have any number of malicious actions, such as keylogging, screen-grabbing and remote access,” the researchers said.

IBM said that this just shows that small bugs can exist for years and years, in this case for more than a decade, before they’re actually detected by anyone, and that the flaw in Windows potentially left an open hole for remote exploitation for the last 18 years, though the “buggy code” that enabled it has existed for 19 years.

IBM said it first discovered the bug in May 2014 and that, had it been found by someone else, it could have “ fetched six figures on the gray market,” among hackers who might have used it to cause serious harm to computer systems. The researchers explain the ins-and-outs of how it works very technically, so hit the source for a deeper understanding.

Computers Software

Microsoft Stops Providing Windows 7 to OEMs

Windows 8 has been available since October of 2012 but the older Windows 7 release is still going strong. In fact, if you look around online, you’ll still be able to find a new computer running Windows 7 or Windows 7 Professional. Starting today, however, the former version is officially on its last legs as Microsoft stops selling the software to computer-makers.

The only exception to the rule is Windows 7 Professional, which will apparently still be sold to OEM partners; Microsoft’s lifecycle page currently says that an end-date for that is “not yet established.” Basically, this means that whatever Windows 7 PCs are still in stock are pretty much the last of their dying breed. Hopefully you like Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, or have an older copy of Windows to install on your new machine manually.

Of course, there’s really nothing wrong with Windows 8. It’s a pretty solid operating system and Microsoft fixed a lot of big issues with its Windows 8.1 update. Finally, there’s always Windows 10 to look forward to, which will put a renewed focus on mouse and keyboard support, brings back the start menu, delivers virtual desktop functionality and more. Still, Windows 10 isn’t due out until later next year, so snatch up a Windows 7 computer before they’re all gone, or get used to Windows 8.1.

Business Software

Google Scoops Up Two Artificial Intelligence Firms

Google’s DeepMind team, founded in 2011 and acquired by Google earlier this year, recently hired members of two artificial intelligence companies that were birthed by Oxford University. The two companies are named Dark Blue Labs and Vision Factory. According to the Dark Blue Labs website, the company focuses on “learning deep structured and unstructured representations of data to make intelligent products, including natural language understanding, a reality,” while Vision Factory builds object and text recognition technology.

The Guardian said that some members of the teams will remain at Oxford University as “guest lecturers,” and that part of the deal involved a sizeable donation on Google’s behalf to Oxford’s engineering and comp-sci programs to provide new lectures, workshops and internship programs.

“Google DeepMind has hired all seven founders of these startups with the three professors holding joint appointments at Oxford University where they will continue to spend part of their time,” Google DeepMind co-founder and Vice President of Engineering said. “These exciting partnerships underline how committed Google DeepMind is to supporting the development of UK academia and the growth of strong scientific research labs.”

It’s possible that the natural language technology researched by Dark Blue Labs will make its way into existing Google products, like Google Search, which are already capable of understanding voice commands. Meanwhile, The Guardian said the Vision Factory team will “help Google improve its vision systems.” Google Goggles, a free app, already allows users to identify objects using the camera on a smartphone, but the team’s expertise could also be applied to Google Glass and, as The Guardian notes, to Google’s self-driving cars.

Mobile Software

Android 5.0 Face Unlock Could Finally Replace Your Passcode

Apple may have perfected the fingerprint scanner with its Touch ID technology, but Google might just have an equally powerful security feature hidden inside its Android 5.0 Lollipop update. An improved version of Android’s face unlock technology might finally convince you to use the feature instead of a regular passcode.

Spotted by Android Police, the new Lollipop feature called “Trusted Face” offers a drastically improved version of the facial recognition technology first introduced with Android 4.0. While the original feature took too long to actually be convenient and could even be tricked with a photograph of the device’s owner, Trusted Face might finally kill the Android passcode.

As soon as you wake up your phone, the camera will start looking for your face while a face-shaped icon lets you know it’s hard at work. Once it gets a match, the lockscreen automatically prompts you to swipe and unlock the device. Of course, if for some reason it can’t read your face you can always use a regular passcode.

We haven’t had a chance to test out Trusted Face just yet, but it sounds a lot like the seamless unlock experience Apple offers with Touch ID. On newer iPhones, you simply reach for the Home button out of habit and it scans your fingerprint automatically. Now, Android can offer an equally magical experience; just turn on your device and it starts scanning your face automatically in the background.

We’re still waiting to put Android 5.0 Lollipop through its paces, and part of that will be testing out Google’s new facial recognition technology. It’s too soon to say just yet, but if Trusted Face works as well as Apple’s Touch ID, it could be one of the best features Google rolls out this year.

Gaming Software

BBC Using the Power of Doctor Who to Teach Kids to Code

What’s the easiest way to get kids to learn something? Disguise it as something they actually enjoy doing such as playing a game.

The BBC recently announced a new initiative where it will attempt to get kids interested in learning to code. This is being done in conjunction with an update to the curriculum in schools around England as children as young five will be receiving basic training in coding. To help do its part, the BBC is turning to that international sci-fi phenomenon known as Doctor Who for assistance.

The Doctor and the Dalek is a new game where you will play the role of a Dalek that has sided with the Doctor in a fight against the Cybermen. The Doctor – voiced by Peter Capaldi – will offer you guidance as you issue some basic coding commands to your Dalek to upgrade him and help him maneuver around the screen avoiding obstacles and so on.

The game will launch on Wednesday in the U.K., but no word as of yet if it will make its way stateside. It may be aimed at children 6 to 12-years-old, but it’s doubtful any Doctor Who fan would pass up a chance to try their hand at The Doctor and the Dalek.

Mobile Software

CNN Android App Updated With Live Streaming Feed

First, we read the news through the newspaper. Then, we watched the news unfold on our TVs. Following that, we took to reading the news again on the Internet before finding ways to watching it through live streams on PCs. Now, we’ve come full circle from just reading the news on our smartphones to now being able to watch live news broadcasts in the palm of our hands whenever we want.