Ubisoft Shows Jaw Dropping Kinect Integration In Tom Clancy

At Microsoft’s E3 keynote, game publisher Ubisoft showed Kinect integration with the next iteration of Tom Clancy Ghost Recon Future Soldier. When the demo started I was shuffling between twitter and refreshing the WWDC live blogs while playing the video on a separate screen. Then I gasped, my jaw dropped and I stayed glued while Ubisoft demonstrated some exciting Kinect integration features. What Ubisoft showed cannot be described in words but can only be enjoyed in video:

Playing with no controllers might get tiring but being able to configure guns by gestures is simply nerdgasmic. Ubisoft promised that future Tom Clancy versions will all have Kinect integration. Ghost Recon Future Soldier is expected to come out in 2012.

iCloud: All About Apple’s Consumer Cloud Service

Today, Apple inched closer to ubiquitous  computing, the elusive dream all technology enthusiasts share. During their Worldwide Developer Conference today, Steve Jobs unveiled Apple’s consumer cloud service unimaginatively named iCloud. A few years back Apple came out with a paid email service with online storage called MobileMe, the service also had Calendar & contacts sync between Apple’s devices. Being a subscriber, I can tell you it offered no value for the money. Back in 2009, news about iWork for the cloud came out. iWork for the cloud was the second part of Apple’s cloud puzzle. Rumors about iTunes in the cloud have been around for a while, which is now the third part of Apple’s cloud service.

Clubbing all of these together and adding three more, we have iCloud:

  • iTunes in the cloud
  • Contacts, Calendar, Mail (MobileMe is no more a brand)
  • Photos
  • Apps, Books, Documents
  • Device backup

iTunes in the Cloud

The service has two parts to it:

  1. Syncing your purchased music across all Apple devices
  2. A subscription service to access your music library on Apple devices

Once you purchase a song, you will be able to download and access it from any device. Let’s say you bought a song on your Mac, your iPod Touch will show “Purchased” for that song in the marketplace. You can then download that song on the device without paying anything extra.

Now, the subscription service is a bit tricky. Google  Music,  Amazon, Grooveshark and the likes, let you upload your music to the cloud. Obviously the labels will have a problem with these big names storing potentially pirated/ripped content. Apple decided to tackle this problem in a way where the labels would be happy & the consumer will be tricked into paying $30 a year to access music he already purchased.

Let’s say you’re one of those guys who has ripped CDs you purchased into iTunes. To access these songs on any iDevice, you need to pay Apple $30 a year and iTunes will match your library against its database. This would mean that:

  1. You already paid for the CD
  2. You pay Apple again to access songs you’ve already paid for.

What happens in case iTunes is not able to match your library? Well, you get to upload those songs. iCloud has 5 GB of free storage space which is shared between services. The split up is detailed at the end of the post.

Having said that, the service is interesting and if it works  seamlessly, I think paying $30 a year wouldn’t be so bad to have all your music with you, anywhere.

Contacts, Mail and Calendar

The brand MobileMe has been phased out and nothing has changed in these three services. Syncing of Contacts, email and calendar entries between devices and the same account will be how it was in MobileMe.


The feature called Photo Stream lets you click a picture and Apple will sync it across all devices. Take a photo with your iPhone and it will be sent to iCloud. Now Photostream has a fine print:

  • iCloud will store new pictures for 30 days
  • Master library will be on the PC
  • iCloud will sync the latest 1,000 pictures across all devices

The use case behind this is that when you take a new picture with an iPhone you will have access to it via iCloud, now within 30 days you should sync your iPhone to a PC so that the picture is stored in the master library. Since pictures are large in size, having all of them on the phone or cloud is not economical. iCloud will have the latest 1,000 pictures available to you in the Photo Stream album on your iDevices.

Apps, Books and Documents

If you live in the Apple world you probably have an iPad and iPhone or iPod Touch, managing apps we have purchased is difficult. With iCloud Apple will sync all apps you purchase and you push them on all your devices.  Like music, a purchase history will let you download apps to your other devices.

This functionality expands to iBooks and documents. Changes made to the documents will be automatically synced over the cloud.


As a user backing up data and setting new devices is a tedious task. However, with iCloud is making it as simple as it can get.  As a technology enthusiast syncing between documents, books, apps and backups is my favorite feature of iCloud, probably the best announcement of the event. iCloud will backup the following:

  • Device Settings
  • App data
  • Home screen and app organization
  • Text and MMS
  • Ringtones
  • Photos and videos in the camera roll album
  • Purchased music, apps and books

Restoring all of this to a new iDevice will require the user to login with their Apple ID.

All of this sounds pretty exciting but what does the 5GB include?

  • Mail
  • Documents
  • Photos and videos in the Camera Roll album
  • Account information
  • Settings
  • App data

The 5 GB does not include  purchased  music, books, apps or the Photo Stream.

You can read our coverage on Apple’s announcements for OS X Lion and iOS 5:

[Video] Metro Windows 8 User Interface Demonstrated By Microsoft

While Sinofsky is talking at D9, Microsoft’s PR is back to doing what they do best – show new stuff while it is being announced to distract and kill the buzz. Here’s a Microsoft engineer demonstrating the Zune/WP7 inspired tiled interface known as Metro.

The interface is fluid, shows a weather app and Microsoft calls switching between apps as “Snap” (it’s like the snap in Windows 7 but works with fingers.) Microsoft has disabled embedding for some weird reason but here’s the video:

Windows App Store Official

We’ve known about Microsoft planning a Windows App Store to distribute desktop apps. The rumors began before Apple announced their App Store for Mac. The Windows App Store is expected to debut with Windows 8 and at the currently ongoing Sinfosky interview at the annual All Things D  conference, an image shared by This Is My Next has confirmed the Store and the icon.

This is the first time Microsoft is showing their metro based Windows 8 interface to the public:

Microsoft has already applied to trademark the icon. Here’s the trademark image:

More details on Windows 8 will follow.


Here’s a higher resolution image of the Metro based Windows 8 (for tablet) interface (Courtesy ATD):

Connector Design Hints At New Mobile Device From Microsoft?

The rumors about an Xbox branded mobile entertainment device as successor to the Zune HD while competing with Apple’s iPod and Sony’s Playstation are growing. A month ago I spotted Microsoft filing for three trademarks:

  • Fusion Vault
  • Fusion Sentient
  • Fusion Genesis

These three trademarks had computer game software as their description. Microsoft enthusiasts have found that Microsoft owns the domain name XboxFusion.com which has led many to believe that Microsoft might be either announcing:

  • Xbox Fusion as their new portable device, or
  • Xbox Fusion will be the  amalgamation of Zune services and Xbox LIVE.

In my opinion, Fusion is most likely a game. As excited I would be to see Microsoft announce a new mobile entertainment device before Apple announcing their next iPod line up, I am sceptical. However, my patent findings show a new connector design from Microsoft. The connector looks different from what the Zune HD has and was filed in May 2010, indicating that it is a recent design. Here’s a comparison of the new connector and the Zune HD connector:


Zune HD connector (image courtesy eforbuy.com)

The size of the male and female ports leads me to believe that the connector is meant for mobile device. Maybe we will see a new mobile entertainment device from Microsoft called Xbox Fusion with three exclusive game titles called Vault, Genesis and Sentient?


[Images] Microsoft Did Plan A Zune Nano

There is a lot of talk about the fact that Microsoft is not talking a lot about Zune these days. Rumors that Microsoft will be phasing out the brand started a while back and off late have been  strengthened by more rumors that Zune will be merged with Xbox LIVE and Windows Live. Microsoft has, on more than one  occasion, said that Windows Phone 7 is their new Zune. The company has not introduced a new iteration to the Zune HD even though ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reported that Microsoft was internally working on a Zune HD2.

Going through some patent documents, I came across a design patent for what looks like Microsoft’s competitor to the iPod Nano:

Unfortunately, I don’t think we will be seeing another Zune player.

Windows Phone 7 Mango Facebook Check In Integration

At Microsoft’s VIP event for the press several consumer focused features in the upcoming mango update were demonstrated. The event had representatives from the company with prototype devices running the unfinished update on display. The Facebook integration in Windows Phone has been one of the praised features of the phone and with Mango, the integration will include ability to check in using Facebook Places.

The Me tile in the current build of WP7 allows you to update your Facebook & Windows Live status and read your previous updates. In Mango, the tile will be a lot more useful by allowing the user to change their IM (Facebook chat & Windows Live Messenger) status, update their social network status (Facebook & Windows Live) and check in into Facebook Places.

As of now, Twitter integration will be limited to the People Hub, allowing users to read Twitter updates shared by contacts. One of the representatives at the event suggested that Twitter will come back into Windows Live which might allow us to update our Twitter messages from the Me tile too.

Here’s the screenshot of the Me tile in Mango:

Intel Chief Spills Windows 8 Details. Confirms Speculations

Just when the Windows 8 news started to dry up, Intel Software chief Renee James speaking to Bloomberg’s Dina Bass has provided us details to what Microsoft is planning. Quite a while back I had speculated that the two interfaces strategy Microsoft is planning, is a tablet play and keeps the desktop and tablet aligned, yet different.

Renee James has confirmed the following:

  • Microsoft planning multiple versions of next Windows OS
  • there will be a Windows 8 version optimized for tablet/mobile that will come in x86 and ARM versions.
  • there are 4 versions of Windows 8 for ARM chips. ARM Windows won’t run legacy apps but x86 will

The strategy ensures that all versions of Windows 8 have a different USP. Point 2 and 3 point that, Windows 8 ARM will be optimized for tablets but won’t be able to run legacy apps, at the same time there will be a x86 version that will be able to run them. My second speculation was that enterprise is one of the reasons why Microsoft wants to have Windows on tablets, for legacy support.

With this strategy, Microsoft has the enterprise and consumer market covered with Windows 8. Master stroke, Microsoft.

Source: @dinabass (1), (2), (3)

(Feature Round-up) Windows Phone 7 Mango: As Delicious As The Fruit

If with Windows Phone 7, people were skeptical about Microsoft’s long term plans for the mobile market, the Nokia and Skype deals prove Microsoft’s commitment. Everyone I show my Windows Phone 7 device to, seems to love it. A few concerns are raised but the first impression is positive. For all the flack the team has been getting regarding the missing features, there is no doubt that they are working their butts off. The next major upgrade to the platform called Mango is making news since it makes the phone an integral part of daily computing. There are a ton of new features that will allow the platform to compete with Android and iOS on features.

Here’s a list of features in addition to Twitter and Kinect Integration, IE9 (with HTML5) and Multitasking that we know are coming as part of the Mango update:


  • Toggle Camera shutter sound off/on

The camera shutter sound wouldn’t turn off even if the phone was turned to silent which was a real annoyance for me. With a clear toggle switch, I can now have some fun.


  • Bing Maps rotating with direction

Coupled with Turn by Turn navigation and Nokia’s NavTeq technology, Bing Maps will definitely become a USP for the phone. In Mango, we will be allowed to choose whether the Maps rotate as we move or always point North.


  • Voice to text for Messaging

Microsoft’s TellMe service that powers voice to text on the phone will be extended to reciting messages to the phone.


Consumer Features:

  • Windows Live and Facebook Chat under Messaging

The lack of an app for Windows Live Messenger was puzzling more so because Microsoft got a third party developer to release what was called as the official app. Enthusiasts hoped Microsoft would integrate the online chat client in the Messaging app and that seems to be the reason why there was no app. In Mango, WP7 Messaging app will have integration with Windows Live and Facebook chat. When considered with Skype integration, Microsoft will now have good leverage against carriers.


  • Group Messaging

The ability to group users together and interacting will be added in Mango, whether this will extend to Facebook and Windows Live contacts with one contact being on WLM and the other on Facebook remains to be seen.


  • Now Playing Artist Album Art as Lock Screen

Imagining the album arts on the lock screen of m Samsung’s AMOLED screen make me want to have Mango now!


  • Zune Smart DJ support

Apple has Genius, Zune has Smart DJ. Smart DJ uses an algorithm to choose what songs will be played next and when used with Zune Pass, you get to listen to songs similar to your tastes but not in your collection, on your phone.


  • SkyDrive Integration in Office Hub

As a Skydrive user, having to download my documents using the browser seems too much work and frustrating since SkyDrive is Microsoft’s product. With Mango, the Office Hub will list SkyDrive as an option to browse Office documents making our lives a lot more convenient.


  • Bing Audio for music detection

Shazam, you have competition.

bing1 bing2-shazam-01

bing2-shazam-02 bing2-shazam-03

  • Turn by Turn Navigation

The AT&T Navigation application works quite well but there are two problems with it:

  1. It belongs to AT&T
  2. You have to subscribe to it

In Mango, Microsoft will add Turn by Turn navigation into Bing Maps much like in Android. Microsoft partnership with Nokia will be playing a crucial role in this feature.


  • Bing Vision (search using camera)

An exciting feature that will allow you to point your camera at QR codes, Microsoft Tag, Books, CDs and DVDs and search using Bing. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) will be implemented for this and hopefully third party developers will be able to use OCR for their apps.


Enterprise Features:

  • Office 365 integration under Office Hub

Like SkyDrive for consumers, Microsoft’s suite of online productivity Office 365 will be making its way into the Office Hub along with Sharepoint.

  • Lync Messaging Client

Part of the Office 365 suite, a Lync app will be available in WP7 marketplace for download.


  • Conversation view in Outlook

Like the Outlook desktop client, conversation view will be added to the Outlook email client on the phone.

outlook-conversation outlook-thread

  • Pin Outlook folders

The ability to pin particular folders in Outlook will make navigating through emails easier.

With all these features, there is no word on Microsoft’s answer to FaceTime but the Skype announcement said a client for Windows Phone is expected soon. Microsoft will be having a Windows Phone 7 event on the 24th, we should see more details about the phones and platform then.

Sources: WinSuperSite, Windows Phone Dev Podcast (1) & (2), Windows Team Blog, Mango Image

Acer & Samsung Chromebooks Orders Start June 15 (Specs)

Google is currently doing a Chromebook demo at their Google I/O  conference. While that happens, here are the details on how you can get your hands on the Chromebooks:

  • Orders begin June 15.
  • Two OEM partners: Acer and Samsung.
  • Chromebooks will be available for purchase via Amazon and Best Buy.

Specs for Samsung’s Chromebook: ($499)

  • 12.1″ (1280×800) 300 nit Display
  • 3.26 lbs / 1.48 kg
  • 8.5 hours of continuous usage  1
  • Intel ® AtomTM Dual-Core Processor
  • Built in dual-band Wi-Fi and World-mode 3G (optional)
  • HD Webcam with noise cancelling microphone
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports
  • 4-in-1 memory card slot
  • Mini-VGA port
  • Fullsize Chrome keyboard
  • Oversize fully-clickable trackpad

Specs for Acer’s Chromebook: ($349)

  • 11.6″ HD Widescreen CineCrystalTM LED-backlit LCD
  • 2.95 lbs. | 1.34 kg.
  • 6 hours of continuous usage  1
  • Intel ® AtomTM Dual-Core Processor
  • Built in dual-band Wi-Fi and World-mode 3G (optional)
  • HD Webcam with noise cancelling microphone
  • High-Definition Audio Support
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports
  • 4-in-1 memory card slot
  • HDMI port
  • Fullsize Chrome keyboard
  • Oversize fully-clickable trackpad