Weekly Tech Update: 01 November 2012

Weekly Tech Update with Michael WalmsleyWelcome to the Weekly Tech Update with me, Mike Walmsley. It’s a look at everything that has happened in the world of technology, the Internet, Search Engines and social media over the last week. This week I have stories from Microsoft, LG, Google, Facebook, Pinterest and even Toni & Guy so let’s get things rolling….

Technology

To some fanfare we finally saw the release of Microsofts Windows 8 operating system last Friday. The new operating system is designed to work with touch screen devices and the new tile interface will be familiar to users of Windows Phone 7. The intention is to create an operating ecosystem that users can use across multiple devices such as PC, tablet and phone. There are a number of different versions of Windows 8 but note that the RT version will not run any of your existing Microsoft programs. Microsoft RT is designed to run on tablets. The new Microsoft Surface tablet retails for £399 which is the same as an iPad but you do get double the memory of the iPad. However the iPad has a lot more apps than the Surface does at the moment.

Google cancelled its event in New York on Monday due to Superstorm Sandy but still announced a new Nexus 4 phone from LG. The Nexus 4 has similar specs to the Samsung Galaxy S3 but will retail, sim free, for just £239 which is an incredibly low price for a smartphone. Google also announced a new Nexus 10 tablet made by Samsung. The Nexus 10 has a 2560×1600 resolution screen which is a higher spec that Apples retina display. It will retail at £319 for a 16GB model or £389 for the 32GB model.

Internet

Do you use your phone to browse the web when you get your hair done? If you do then you might be interested to know that Toni & Guy salons will shortly be offering free Wi-Fi courtesy of O2.  This is a good idea as a hairdressers client potentially spends a lot of time sitting alone while they are in a salon and having access to the web would be better than having the choice of a dozen well-thumbed magazines that most salons seem to have.

Google’s free email service, Gmail, has been given a facelift. There are no new features but the UI has been improved so that it will, among other things, resize itself automatically to fit the screen that you are using. So far people seem to be quite positive about the changes.

Search Engines

Google still dominates the UK search market with a whopping 91.1% share of all searches. Microsoft’s Bing is in second place with 4.59%. Now this may not seem much but Bing’s share increased by the same amount, 0.35%, that Google fell compared to the previous month. Bing did have a campaign running that challenged users to compare the accuracy of the results that the two search giants produced. Bing may also have benefitted from a bounce as excitement about Windows 8 rose.

Google have released a new search app for iOS that has voice recognition. I have used it extensively over the last couple of days and am starting to prefer it to typing in search queries on my phone. The voice recognition appears to be very good and can cope effectively with my Northern accent!

Social Media

Facebook is testing a new version of its Timeline that puts all a user’s posts in a single column. The test is currently being evaluated by a small number of users but if successful could be rolled out to everybody. If it is then you will find that your page will still have two columns, the left hand one will be for you status updates and the right hand one has things such as your friends and likes. The left hand column with your posts in will also be wider than it is at the moment. I am sure that there will be a lot of people who complain that they want their old Timeline back and they will probably be the same people who complained when Facebook first moved to the Timeline interface.

Pinterest are now rolling a new feature that allows you to verify your website. The advantage of doing this is that your website address will appear in your profile and this allows your followers to learn even more about you, your products and services. The verification process is simple, you download an HTML file from Pinterest, then upload it to your website and click the verify button in your Pinterest profile page.

And finally, IBM have announced a new chip technology that uses carbon nanotubes transistors rather than the traditional silicon transistors. So far they have been able to create a chip with over 10 000 transistors on. These transistors are smaller and more energy efficient. Size does matter here, the smaller the transistors are the more that can be fitted on a chip and the more transistors a chip has the faster it will go. The bad news is that it may be 10 years before the technology is commercially available.

Michael Walmsley is a freelance web designer based in Blackburn, Lancashire, UK. He has over a decade of experience of working online. In addition to web design he is also a search engine optimisation specialist, social media consultant and online marketing expert. You can contact Michael by completing the contact form at the bottom of the page or calling 0800 779 7829.