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Microsoft looking to bring one of the best Apple MacBook features to Windows 10

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Microsoft are tipped to bolster their Windows 10 offering by adding one of the most innovative and unique features found on the Apple MacBook range of laptops. It wasn’t too long ago that the Redmond-based tech giant pushed out the biggest Windows 10 download of the year so far – the May 2020 update – and rumour has it the firm are already hard at work at another big shake-up to the market leading OS. Last year Microsoft announced the Windows 10X software during the Surface event in New York – but not much has been heard about it since.

The operating system, which reportedly has been codenamed Windows Lite, was originally intended to run on dual screen devices such as the Surface Neo.

But Microsoft later said that they were planning to bring the OS to single screen devices first before rolling it out to dual screen gadgets.

Windows 10X is not meant to replace the desktop build of the market leading operating system, with both versions co-existing together.

And according to Windows Latest, sources have said that Microsoft are looking to bring some of the features of Windows 10X to the regular version of Windows 10 first.

Some of the Windows 10X features that look like they will be crossing over to the version millions already use include a new Start Menu, an Action Center and faster Windows Updates.

But it also looks like Microsoft will be adding the ‘Wonder Bar’ to the regular version of Windows 10.

Windows 10: Experts explain how to manage device updates

This is a UI that appears on dual screen devices when a keyboard is attached to one of the displays, allowing a user to deploy quick-fire touch controls.

And newly leaked images of an upcoming Microsoft keyboard appears to hint that the Wonder Bar is coming to the regular version of Windows 10 as well.

The Verge senior editor Tom Warren was one of those who tweeted out a picture of the leaked keyboard.

Warren posted: “Looks like Microsoft is improving the design of its dedicated emoji key. We’ve seen these keys before”.

Responding to this tweet, notable Windows 10 leaker Gustave M wrote: “That’s actually the [Wonder Bar] key, same icon you can see on 10X and the new upcoming touch keyboard in build 20185 and higher, behind a velocity flag. I don’t think it’s purely emoji, it will probably launch the [Wonder Bar]”.

When it is running on a dual screen device, the Wonder Bar is reminiscent of the Apple MacBook’s Touch Bar – however it looks beefier and chunkier.

Apple MacBook

Windows 10 could be getting a feature reminiscent of the Apple MacBook’s Touch Bar (Image: APPLE)

The Touch Bar offers quick access to shortcuts, and depending on the programme you use can offer specific controls for that app.

So, for instance the Touch Bar can be used for video editing in Final Cut Pro and a MacBook user can also tweak the shortcuts on offer to suit their needs.

Microsoft’s Wonder Bar will boast a range of functionality too, with it large enough to offer a virtual trackpad as well as mini video playback.

It will also offer quick access to emojis as well as a user’s clipboard.

If the Wonder Bar does end up coming to Windows 10 as rumoured, it remains to be seen how Microsoft implements it.

Could it just appear as a dedicated Window on-screen, with users having to use a mouse or a touch screen display to interact with the feature?

Or could Microsoft bring out new products for their Surface range which will include a touch display alongside a keyboard to support the Wonder Bar?

Keep your eyes peeled as this rumoured new addition could end up being a big feature heading to Windows 10 soon.

Source: https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/science-technology/1327258/Microsoft-bring-best-Apple-MacBook-feature-to-Windows-10

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The Future

Coding the future: the tech kids solving life’s problems

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They’re too young to vote or drive. But meet the children writing computer programs to track our health and wellbeing, choose a new school… and even how to cheat at online games

Portrait of Adarsh Ambati in the backyard of his family’s home in San Jose, CA.
 Making an impact: Adarsh Ambati developed a contactless vital signs monitor and a community sprinkler alert system to conserve water in his neighbourhood. Photograph: Winni Wintermeyer/The Observer

Adarsh Ambati, 15, San Jose, California

I started getting interested in coding when I was about 11. I joined a local community lab where biologists and computer scientists come together and conduct experiments. I wanted to join the lab because my brother was really into biology and at the time I wanted to be exactly like him. I was too young to participate in the experiments, so my mentor pushed me more towards coding.

Then a couple of years ago my mum had a third-degree heart block and had to go to hospital where she was hooked up to so many different wires to monitor her health. But the wires ended up hindering her health because they stopped her moving around. I wanted to make something that could help her and other people feel better by having their mobility restored, while still being able to monitor their vital signs.

That’s when I came up with an idea for a contactless vital signs monitor. It took me around nine months to develop the device and build an app with notifications so doctors could use it, but also regular people. Because it’s contactless and relatively portable it could even be used to detect infectious diseases such as Covid-19. My mum got better before I finished the project, so unfortunately I couldn’t use it on her, but I did test it on a lot of other people. I had 40 participants in my pilot study and did over 1,000 tests.

In the past, coders have been thought of as nerds and social pariahs, but technology has become a lot more interactive and social than it used to be.

At school there are a lot of kids who are really interested in computer science. I think about 25% of people want to pursue it in some way as a career. A lot of young people now associate tech with the sleek, beautiful campuses of Apple and Facebook in Silicon Valley.

I made my monitor because I saw a problem with my mum’s heart, but I also did a project about an eco- sprinkler system when I saw that a lot of water was wasted on my neighbours’ lawns. I want to combine my passions of environmental science and computer science and build a product that will make conservational biology much more efficient. Preserving biodiversity is something we’re struggling with as a planet; hopefully one day I can develop a device that can make that go more smoothly.

Raphaël Wreford, 13, London

Raphael Wreford, 13,at his computer at home
 Screen time: Raphaël Wreford. Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer

My technology career started when I was four and my dad showed me how to make a PowerPoint. I was really bad at drawing, so I would use it to make cool shapes and animations. I began making one every week about the most boring subjects, like my house, and presenting them to my primary school class. I think I started a trend because so many people started doing it after that.

Soon after, my friend’s dad, who made video games, realised I was interested in computers and started teaching me about coding. He showed us the things he had made and I was fascinated because I realised with code you could make anything you want. I would play around with an old spare computer at home and mash the keys, hoping it would produce a good output – that’s how I lost my first computer to a million viruses.

Initially, I only wanted to learn code so I could make my own video games. My parents were quite strict with technology. I didn’t have a games console and I knew if I asked to play video games, most of the time the answer would be no. But if I asked to make one, they would let me because it was educational. It was a great way of bypassing the rules.

For about three years my friend and I used the library computer at school to work on game ideas. My first creation was very boring – and my family definitely expressed that. I really wanted to do something unique and helpful. I had an idea to make a video game for blind people. I always knew the game should be shaped around sounds, so a blind person could hear it. I spent a whole summer talking to my dad about it and when I started making it, it ran really smoothly.

I want to make it available on Android game apps soon and eventually add some of the adverts that allow you to get paid a little. Once you’ve got the skills it’s quite easy to make money from coding – even when you’re just 13.

I think 20 years ago coding seemed like a geeky thing to do, but now you have drones that rescue people in mountains, robot surgeons and AI that is a million times smarter than humans. Young people are realising they can save the world with code.

Fiona Geary, 13, West Cork

Fíona Geary at her computer at home
 Game changer: Fíona Geary. Photograph: Courtesy of the Geary family

When I was seven my parents saw things on the TV about coding and took me to a local coding club. I liked that you could write a set of instructions to the computer and it carried out your wishes: you could create any idea that popped up in your head. I started experimenting with mini-games. I made one where you had to save an alien planet from climate change. We always get lectures about climate change and I wanted to create a fun game with aliens to do a unique spin on the concept.

When I was 12, I made an animation about a refugee who travels to Ireland from Syria. I had heard about it so much in the news and I wanted to use my skills to get the message out there because people my age might not know about these things.

My current project is a website about mindfulness, the name is TeenBeo – beo is the Irish word for life. I think that every young person can get nervous sometimes and growing up in 2020 there is a lot of chaos with social media and living up to certain ideals. There are notifications coming at you all the time. The internet can be very hectic. That’s why it’s important to take a break sometimes. On my website there’s a stress ball you can click on when you are angry, there’s music, there’s a breathing exercise, there’s also an area where you can write down all your worries.

I haven’t shown it to my friends yet as I was keeping it a bit of a secret until I was comfortable with it. If I do put it up publicly, people could share their artwork and recordings on there. I don’t think there’s anywhere in life that so many people can come together as a community like the internet.

A lot of teenagers don’t get into coding, which is a shame, because it’s very helpful. It’s way harder to connect with people without technology – without it lockdown would have been a disaster: no online meetings, no online school, we would have basically done nothing the whole time. It’s hard to imagine a world without tech. I guess you would have to have a power cut to know what it’s like.

At the moment I’m dreaming of learning JavaScript and maybe some Python as well, and I would also love to program a robot. That would be really cool. Eventually, I’d like to work somewhere like Google, especially with all the slides, but I’m only 13 so I’m keeping my options open.

Elana Monaghan, 16, and Saibh Malcolm, 15, Galway

Elana Monaghan and Saibh Malcom in their school uniform at school
 Class act: Elana Monaghan and Saibh Malcolm

Elana: You can do anything with code; you can make an app or a website about anything, whether that’s about books or design. We’re both pretty creative and I think that’s one of the things that attracted us to code.

Saibh: For me the problem-solving side very appeals as well. There is so much to actually coding a website and there is always something more to learn. If you are creative, finding something that you can use your imagination with is so cool. You can think of anything and then go ahead and make it into something.

E: In Ireland, you get a choice of a few schools in your area and when it came to picking secondary schools I picked the one that was most convenient, but last year I transferred to Saibh’s school and now I’m much happier. After that experience, we came up with an idea for an app called Exploring Schools, to help primary school kids choose the right secondary school for them.

S: If I was still in primary school and had the app, I would definitely look at the number of people in the school: my primary school had about 40 students, and then I moved to a secondary school that had more than 800 students – and that was a big change.

E: Our app evolved as we got more focused and started getting the information together – that was definitely the longest part. There are 47 schools in Galway and we had to go through every school’s details.

S: We talked to our friends’ younger brothers and sisters and they all said they thought it would be really helpful. Most of the schools have their own websites, but they’re hard to navigate and find the information that you want. We want to help kids compare schools and have all the information in one place so they make the right choice.

E: We definitely want to expand the app. At the moment we only have it for one county in Ireland, but we’re hoping to have it for all of Ireland soon. We probably have to find a more efficient way of collecting the information – at the moment we’re just Googling the schools one by one.

S: Coding still isn’t very big, especially among girls, but I think people are definitely getting more into it. In our school we’re probably the only two people who are really into coding, but it’s becoming more popular.

E: In 10 years’ time everyone will want to learn how to code. It will definitely help us in the future.

Nico Papamichael, 13, London

Nico Papamichael, 13, London
 Bright spark: Nico Papamichael. Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Observer

There are so many things you can do with coding, it’s fun to explore and see what you can create. I enjoy trying things and seeing if it works – if it doesn’t, I try it a different way.

I’ve always been interested in things like computers, phones and technology, so I saved up and bought myself a couple of computers – I don’t spend my money on anything else, really. I started playing around with programming. I like to experiment with things that already exist. For example, I used to go to a swimming pool and they had contactless key cards that they gave us. When I stopped going I decided to reprogram the card so that I could tap it on to my iPhone and it would turn the flashlight on. It was pretty useful, actually.

I also spend more time messing around with video games than I spend actually playing them. I like to see how a game is written and do something with it that makes it easier to play or makes you invincible. I made a new world on MineCraft where I changed the icon and I changed how many points I had – you can change the colours and characters until it’s basically a new world. Once you know how to do it, it’s not really very hard. I’m just really interested in how I can improve things and make them more interesting.

I find it quite surprising that no one I know really enjoys doing the things that I do. We go to digital literacy classes at school, which is basically IT, and we learn coding. I tend to get through it in 10 minutes instead of an hour and then I just make my own stuff up. Everyone always asks me for help all the time. I think it’s because I see it as a hobby rather than a lesson that I have to do. They don’t see it as that much fun.

Code is like a language; once you learn it from the beginning you can only learn it more and more and more. One day, when I’m really good at it my plan is to create something that no one has ever made – I want to come up with a computer that no one has ever seen before.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/nov/29/coding-the-future-the-tech-kids-solving-lifes-problems

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The Future

Xbox App May Come to Smart TVs in the Next 12 Months: Phil Spencer

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Xbox app may come to smart TVs in 2021, head of Xbox Phil Spencer shared during an interview with The Verge. Microsoft is working on bringing its game streaming service — xCloud — to mobile phones and it seems like the company already has plans on implementing something similar with smart TVs. While Spencer did not share exact details about the app, Xbox chief last month hinted that the company could be working on TV streaming sticks for its xCloud gaming services.

Phil Spencer spoke with The Verge about the new Xbox consoles and the future of gaming, and shared that an Xbox app or something on those lines will make its way to smart TVs in the next 12 months. “I think you’re going to see that in the next 12 months. I don’t think anything is going to stop us from doing that,” the report quoted Spencer as saying.

Looking back at CRT TVs that project an image on the back of a piece of glass, Spencer mentioned that TVs nowadays are like game consoles stuffed behind a screen with “an app platform and a Bluetooth stack and a streaming capability”.

According to Spencer, watching Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and other streaming services is one of the primary things that users do on their consoles. Talking about changes in technology, the head of Xbox said, “I think you’re absolutely right, there will be winners and losers and things that evolve and get combined together. What I’m saying is the amount of compute capability in my home has increased with the number of streaming signals that have come in, not decreased. I think gaming will be one of those things as well”.

Back in October, Microsoft hinted at TV streaming sticks for its xCloud gaming services. At the time, Spencer stated that there may be low-price hardware in the Xbox ecosystem, referring to devices that can just plug into a TV and run games via xCloud.

Microsoft is working on bringing a stable version of its xCloud game streaming service to mobile devices. As of now, it is available in beta on Android with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and brings over 100 games to a mobile device.

Source: https://gadgets.ndtv.com/games/news/xbox-app-for-smart-tvs-12-months-phil-spencer-microsoft-xcloud-game-streaming-2329969

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Facebook and Instagram are getting Vanish Mode in chats

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Ten days ago WhatsApp got Disappearing Messages and now the other two apps with messaging abilities in the Facebook family are adopting it. Both Messenger and Instagram will get Vanish Mode which will delete messages upon closing the conversation window.

Facebook and Instagram are getting Vanish Mode in chats

Vanish Mode is activated with a swipe from the bottom of the chat. Once a message is sent, it will stay on the screen until it is turned off or the app is switched. Of course, you can always screenshot the message before it disappears.

The new feature will work both in group chats and personal conversations. While they are instantly disappearing, Facebook revealed conversations can be reported, meaning they will remain in the system for up to 14 days, so they are not instantly deleted.

Such features aren’t entirely new in the Facebook universe – there still is “Secret Conversation” for Messenger but it is rather tedious to set up and use and nobody has the time for that. Instagram also has something of a disappearing feature – currently, photos can be sent and set up to disappear once seen but nothing on messages unless you Unsend them.

Source: https://www.gsmarena.com/facebook_and_instagram_are_getting_vanish_mode_in_chats-news-46270.php

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