Wednesday, June 11, 2014

This Week in Geek

Microsoft is about to break down language barriers, said Josh Lowensohn in TheVerge .com. The software giant showed off a new feature for Skype last week that will enable users speaking different languages to communicate over video with real-time translation. The feature, called Skype Translator, will allow you to “talk in your native language to another user who speaks a different language” and instantly translate the conversation. Microsoft says the technology, which has been in the works for more than a decade, will roll out as a beta app for Windows 8 by the end of the year and eventually be available “on all devices, big or small.”

Apple is finally learning to play nice, said Nick Statt in The iPhone-maker last week revealed iOS 8, the latest version of its mobile operating system, along with new features that will allow more apps to “talk to each other” in new ways. For instance, app developers will now be able to use their own keyboard software, bringing swipe typing to the iPhone for the first time. The new OS will also “integrate TouchID fingerprint scanning into any iOS app,” meaning users will be able to access password-protected apps such as mobile banking with their iPhone’s built-in fingerprint sensor. Apple’s new approach is good news for developers, but it won’t be a free-for-all. When it comes to features like messaging, personal media, and file sharing, Apple has made clear that those remain “parts of its garden it wants to cultivate alone.”

Another tech giant is gearing up for the smartwatch game, said Parmy Olson in While “the ongoing conversation about wearables” has been largely dominated by Samsung and Apple, Microsoft is getting ready to jump into the market with a plan to sell its own “sensor-rich smartwatch that measures heart rate and syncs with iPhones, Android phones, and Windows phones.” The Microsoft watch, which could be available as soon as this summer, will resemble the Samsung Gear Fit and feature a full-color touch screen. Users will be able to continuously track their heart rate and other vital signs, which may prove to be an “attractive sell for fitness enthusiasts and those in the health-care space.”
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