Top 7 Top Tech Innovations of 2016

There was lots of talk about virtual reality this year, but most of it was looking forward to trends that might come true in a few years. The real action, however, was in another form of reality, the augmented kind.

AR, or augmented reality, tops our annual list of tech innovations for 2016, highlighted, of course, by the Pokémon Go app, and all those crazy filters we added to our Snapchat photos.

Snapchat, the app originally beloved for sending photos that could disappear within 10 seconds, has expanded into a service about 150 million people visit daily, fuelled by the selfie lens, where you can add cat ears and rainbow tongues to your photos and videos.

This month, it went one step further with the introduction of “World Lenses”, which put smiles onto ordinary clouds in the background of your photo, or add falling rain or snow to an image.

The red-hot Spectacles video glasses, released at the end of the year, don’t have AR — you shoot regular 10-second video clips that can be viewed on Snapchat. But it’s not hard to imagine what the product could morph into eventually with AR.

This, for all its silliness, is augmented reality, a far cry from costly, immersive virtual-reality headsets produced by Facebook’s Oculus, Samsung, HTC and Google. While these all won praise for their quality, they’ve lacked the “killer app” that’s made everyone — from nephews to grandmothers — want to try it.

Not so with augmented reality, as the raging popularity of Pokémon Go attested.

1. Pokémon Go

This northern summer, the Pokémon Go phenomenon hit seemingly overnight. Millions of people ditched work and other commitments to pour into the streets in search of characters to catch via their smartphone app.

The game, which boasts more than 500 million downloads, was real, while the simulated characters were super-imposed into real-life situations on our smartphone cameras like theme parks, carnivals and ocean-front boardwalks.

The fun was short-lived, though. The app currently isn’t even in the top 50 on Apple’s app chart, and clocks in at no. 40 on Google’s Play chart.

But do we expect big things in AR next year? Absolutely.

2. Smartphone steadicam

I fell hard this year for the Osmo Mobile Gimbal, the drone-camera-technology on a stick from DJI, the market leader in drone sales. Long seen in movies, with crane shots that appear to be flying, you can now achieve similar results for just a few hundred dollars.

Last year, DJI introduced the Osmo as a unit with a dedicated camera for $US550 ($740). This year it went mass market with the Mobile, which uses your smartphone camera to record the fluid, smooth images, using the motors of the gimbal, a feature on many drones, to steady your shots.

Use it, and your fans might think you hired a helicopter to come along with you for the shoot.

Over the weekend, DJI had a Black Friday deal with a free extra battery (worth $US35), which you will need. The original battery lasts only about 30-45 minutes.

Runner-up goes to the GoPro Karma Grip, a similar steadicam on a stick for your GoPro, which initially was included with the price of the $US1100 Karma drone. But then the drone started falling from the skies, and GoPro recalled the product. The action-cam maker has yet to put the Grip for sale as an accessory, but says it’s coming soon. I tested it and loved the super-wide shots you could get on the GoPro camera, now steady for the first time.

3. New way to scan

Last year, Google gave us Google Photos, an app that organised your huge, growing photo collection with facial recognition and no storage limits. Now the same division just unleashed ScanPhoto as an alternative to all of us who take photos of old photos with our smartphone. The images are decent, but sometimes there’s glare, and the orientation is a little off.

The app’s genius is that it takes four photos of each image, and uses software to eliminate glare — very well, as it has tools to adjust the crop, and then inserts them directly into Google Photos, so you can find them.

Your alternative is using a paid service like or iMemories, with which the quality will be better and it will be less taxing than having you do a shoebox’s worth of photos one by one.

But as a free addition to the app portfolio that’s always by our side, it can’t be beat.

4. Bluetooth lifesaver

In my house, we can’t live without Tile, the little bluetooth gizmo that attaches to key ring chains and the inside of my wallet to help me find lost stuff. Can’t find something? Just open the Tile app, and wait for the ring tone to locate the missing item. New for this year was the Tile Slim, a $US30 thinner version (as thin as two credit cards, the company says). The Slim is made to more easily live in tight spaces, like a passport or bottom of a camera, which means we can use it in more places.

5. Better home Wi-Fi

Finally, consistent internet throughout the house with the Eero, a gadget that works alongside your router to stream your signal through walls, doors and other former obstacles in the home. The founder of the company, Nick Weaver, told USA TODAY this year how his parents’ Wi-Fi woes inspired him to start Eero.

“Our networks run our homes,” he said. “Without the Internet, it’s hard to get any work done, hard to relax. I really wanted to fix this problem.”

He put enterprise-style networking tech into small white boxes.

“You think you can just have a router run our expanding collections of devices, but that’s not so.”

Instead, you place Eero units throughout the home to spread the internet signal. It’s pricey — a three-pack starts at $US499, but Eero was offering Black Friday pricing at $US100 off. (Google has a similar product, Google Wifi, that’s expected to be released by next month for $US129.)

6. Acoustics that sound electric

I love playing acoustic guitars because I can grab them and start playing immediately, without having to plug in. I love the sound of acoustic, but electric doesn’t sound too shabby, either. So call me a huge fan of Yamaha’s innovation here — Yamaha TransAcoustic guitar, which can sound electrified through technology.

Yamaha pulls this off by installing what’s called an “actuator” into the inner surface of the Transacoustic guitar back (street price, about $US1000), which vibrates in “response to the vibrations of the strings”, according to the company. Turn it on, and you get “Reverb” and “Chorus” sounds, which add presence to your music. Many guitar players crank up the reverb on their amps or pedals. I just adjust the volume on the TransAcoustic, and do it naturally, without any cords.

7. The drone that fits in a (large) pocket

Finally, how about a small, light drone that can slip into a really tight space? In the DJIMavic Pro drone, DJI brought down the size of the flying machine into one that could easily join you for hikes, cycling expeditions and the like. For a $US999 drone that was so popular, production is backed up at least two months, according to the website.

(Rival GoPro had a similar idea with the Karma drone, priced at $US1099 and said to be small and portable — but in truth, it was rather large and heavy, and had this little problem of falling from the skies during flight. The unit has since been recalled; it did produce beautiful images, though.)

By: Jefferson Graham

Posted On:


Brisbane Hosting & Website Hosting’s products and services include Website Hosting, Domain Names, DNS Services, Website Development, Website Design, Website Revamps, Website Maintenance, Social Media Campaigns and more.

Contact Brisbane Hosting on (07) 3889 2977 or via email for further information and quote today.

Samsung Pay Gears Up

Users of Samsung Galaxy devices which are compatible with the Samsung Gear S2 or new Gear S3 can now use Samsung Pay at outlets in Australia.

Richard Fink, head of IT and Mobile Division at Samsung Australia, says, “The ability to make payments from the Gear S2 and S3 watches using Samsung Pay gives Australians yet another layer of convenience when shopping and allow them to make payments quickly and easily.”

“For the first time, Australians will be able to use Samsung Pay to tap their Gear wristwatch and purchase their Christmas gifts, pay for their coffee while on the run, or pay for their taxi ride, all without the need to carry a wallet or smartphone. We have already seen an incredible uptake of Gear wearables in Australia, as well as Samsung Pay for Galaxy smartphones, which makes this an exciting and compelling solution for customers.”

The credit card providers that are covered, initially, include Australian-issued American Express cards and Citi (Visa) credit cards.

Samsung Pay supports two types of contactless payments: NFC (Near Field Communications) and the later MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission). The Gear S2, Galaxy S6/Edge have NFC only and the Gear S3, Galaxy S6 Edge+ and GS7/Edge and Note 5 have MST as well.

The Gear must be paired to a compatible Galaxy device and then the Gear S2 and S3 can be used as standalone payment devices with a PIN. One can also pay using the smartphone as a contactless device with Fingerprint authentication.

Almost any loyalty card can be digitally stored as well.

At present, Samsung Pay can be used in Australia, South Korea, United States, China, Spain, and Singapore.

The credit or debit card number is not saved on the device, rather just a token and a cryptogram that is only valid for that payment are transmitted to the card reader.

Samsung is negotiating to extend the credit/debit card and financial institution coverage.

By: Ray Shaw

Posted On:


Brisbane Hosting & Website Hosting’s products and services include Website Hosting, Domain Names, DNS Services, Website Development, Website Design, Website Revamps, Website Maintenance, Social Media Campaigns and more.

Contact Brisbane Hosting on (07) 3889 2977 or via email for further information and quote today.

Apple Releases Portrait Mode for iPhone 7 Plus

Apple releases Portrait mode for iPhone 7 Plus that gives shallow depth of field feature like a DSLR

FORGET about grabbing that clunky DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera. Your iPhone 7 Plus today has just become a much better camera.

Apple has finally launched the Portrait feature that was the highlight of the iPhone 7 announcement last month.

Through software trickery, the Portrait feature recognises the subject in a photo and isolates that by blurring objects that are in the distance.

Although it’s called Portrait mode, you don’t need to be shooting pictures of people to get it to work.

Today we tested it at our desk using a roll of sticky tape, and we now have an arty picture of the sticky tape with the rest of the office blurred in the background.

When you take a picture with Portrait mode, you get two versions of the photo in your camera roll. One has the photo with the depth-of-field effect applied, the other is just a straight out of the lens shot.

REVIEW: Why the iPhone 7 Plus is the phone you really want

There are a couple of catches when using the Portrait mode.

For one, you need the iPhone 7 Plus with the dual lens cameras — it won’t work with the iPhone 7 or any other iPhone. This is a feature that is unique to the 7 Plus phone model and not a part of the general iOS 10 software because it requires the two lenses in the largest iPhone to detect the distance of objects.

When you go to Portrait mode, it automatically switches to the 2x lens. It then tells you if you are too close to the subject with the words “move farther away” appearing on the screen until it’s happy with the distance between you and the subject. The feature will not work in low light.

The feature, although released today, is still in beta. That means Apple will continue to improve it although given it is now part of the latest iOS 10 release Apple considers it stable enough for wide public use.

This is not true depth of field that you get with a wide aperture on a DSLR camera and the software, although very clever, is not perfect.

With our photo of the roll of sticky tape, the soft focus effect was applied to the inside of the roll which, if we had taken the photo with a DSLR, should have been as sharp as the rest of the roll.

To use the feature with your iPhone 7 Plus today, first go to Settings and download the latest software update.

Portrait mode then appears in your camera between the Photo and Square modes.

By: Rod Chester, News Corp Australia Network

Posted On:


Brisbane Hosting & Website Hosting’s products and services include Website Hosting, Domain Names, DNS Services, Website Development, Website Design, Website Revamps, Website Maintenance, Social Media Campaigns and more.

Contact Brisbane Hosting on (07) 3889 2977 or via email for further information and quote today.

The Genius Phone is Coming

Google Pixel: stand aside smartphone, the genius phone is coming

Smartphone vendors have a tough job. They need to convince consumers that theirs is the best, bar none. Better than last year’s model. Better than the competition. And not just incrementally better. Quantum leap better. Otherwise, who would want to upgrade?

The narrative around the new Pixel phones is that they are so good and so different from what came before that Google even had to find a new brand name for them. So it’s farewell to the Nexus — which was last year’s most awesome Google smartphone — and hello to Pixel, Google’s newest bestie.

As Google vice president Jason Bremner put it: “Nexus was the best of Android [the Google operating system]; Pixel is the best of Google.” While most consumers would probably not appreciate that subtle differentiation, the intent is clearly to make the Pixels much more than a “pure Android” phone.

The Pixel phones are an entirely new created-from-scratch, flagship smartphone that combines the high-class hardware with Google’s software smarts in an integrated way that, apparently, has not been done before.


With Pixel phones, Google says ‘inflection point’ reached in computing

Reviewing a new phone at a launch event is a bit like test driving a car in a showroom. You can’t do much more than kick the tires and check the comfyness of the seats. And let’s face it, there is a sameness now to all top-of-the-range smartphones; they all come in the “candy bar” shape, all come clad in glass and aluminum, with super-dooper high resolution screens, awesome multi mega pixel cameras and most also have a headphone jack.

The Pixel and the phablet-sized Pixel XL both conformto that familiar spec described above. Save for the fingerprint sensor, which sits on the back the device. Unlike the iPhone, there is no camera bump, the lens sit flush to the surface. Also unlike the iPhone 7 and newer Samsungs Galaxys, Pixels are not promoted as being water or splash resistant.

But here are six features, in no particular order, which I think deserve special mention:

1. Google chief executive Sundar Pichai has called it. The mobile first era is over and it’s being replaced by the Artificial Intelligence (AI) first era. And we thought they were called smartphones! Well apparently, you ain’t seen nothing yet. But the Pixel phones are the forerunners of the next generation of really smart phones where stuff like AI, machine learning, voice and image recognition and neural networks are baked into the operating system.

Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL could step in to fill the gap left by the Note7.

Google Assistant is to the Pixel as Siri is the iPhone, only she’s been sucking up humanity’s collective wisdom for a lot longer than Siri has. Google Assistant is part bot, part concierge, part life coach. It’s how Pichai says the company will “build a personal Google for each and every user”. Creepy, maybe; useful, for sure.

2. It’s hard enough switching from Android to Android let alone iPhone to Android. To salve the the itch to switch, the Pixel phones come with software and an adapter you can use to tether phones together so that everything comes across rapidly and painlessly.

3. It is clear that the Pixel cameras are a cut above the competition. Tests by DxOMark, a respected independent source of camera and lens image quality measurements and ratings, has given the Pixel cameras a score of 89, placing it above the competition. Google also uses a lot of clever software to trick up the photos so that they look like they were shot with a proper single lens reflex camera.

4. The Pixels are the first to support Google’s Daydream virtual reality (VR) platform. I don’t think this can be underestimated as a selling point. Yes, it’s early days, but turning your phone into a VR projector — once coupled with the $119 Daydream View goggles — will bring new uses to these phones that you never knew existed. Mums and dads, lock away your new Pixel phones because someone is going to have an irresistible urge to strap them to their face for extended periods.

5. Google has one-upped Apple’s Genius Bar concept with built-in 24/7 support. When they say built-in, they mean exactly that. It’s built into the phone so that as long as you can switch on the phone, which admittedly is sometimes the problem, you can dial up for voice or chat support. There’s even a feature to screen shot and share the problem you’re seeing.

6. Hoarders rejoice! Pixel owners (should we be calling them Pixies?) will get unlimited storage in the cloud for their photos and videos at the original resolution. Google Photos already provides video and photo cloud storage, but larger files are crunched down in size. Coupled with dynamic caching, which parks stuff you haven’t seen for a while in the cloud, Pixel phones will never run out of photo and video storage space.

Prices: The 5-inch Pixel will range in price from $1079 for the 32GB version to $1229 for the 128G model. The Pixel XL 5.5-inch model will start at $1269 for the 32GB version and $1419 for the128GB model. They will both run on the Android 7.1 version of Google’s mobile operating system.

The author attended the launch in San Francisco as a guest of Google.

By: Stephen Hutcheon

Posted on:


Brisbane Hosting & Website Hosting’s products and services include Website Hosting, Domain Names, DNS Services, Website Development, Website Design, Website Revamps, Website Maintenance, Social Media Campaigns and more.

Contact Brisbane Hosting on (07) 3889 2977 or via email

Can HP’s Elite x3 change the size and shape of computing?

Keith Hartsfield may well have the toughest sales job in the tech industry.

The corporate vice-president in charge of mobility products at HP, he’s the man in charge of HP’s ambitious re-entry into the mobile phone business.

On the face of it, that’s a tough job as it is. When HP’s Elite x3 Windows 10 Mobile device goes on sale some time between now and September, HP will essentially be trying to sell a Microsoft-powered phone at the very time Microsoft itself appears to be backing away from the idea.

In May, Microsoft said it would sell its Nokia phone business to the Chinese phone maker Foxconn, a deal which directly affects only its low-cost “feature phones”, but Microsoft officials have also said they are no longer focusing on high-end Windows 10 Mobile phones, at least not in 2016. With Windows 10 Mobile capturing only a tiny fragment of the market in most countries – Windows accounted for just 2.8 per cent of Australian phone sales in the three months to April this year, according to figures from Kantar Worldpanel, and in the US that figure was just 1.3 per cent – the software giant is believed to have narrowed its focus to Windows 10, which has been far more successful and has now been installed on more than 300 million PCs, laptops and tablets around the world, according to Microsoft.

But selling Microsoft-powered phones when Microsoft seems to have given up trying is not even the toughest part of Keith Hartsfield’s job.

No doubt to distance itself from Microsoft’s mobile phone troubles, but also to capitalise on HP’s position as the world’s number one maker of commercial PCs, HP plans to pitch the Elite x3 not as a mobile phone, but as a “next-generation” computer for businesses, designed to free up workers from having to carry around notebook PCs.

A PC replacement

Hartsfield doesn’t just have to convince people to replace their Android or Apple phone with a Windows 10 Mobile phone. They have to replace their PCs as well.

“If I tell you that we’re releasing a Windows phone, you’re going to be like, ‘Yeah, why would you do that?’,” Hartsfield told The Australian Financial Review.

“But if I tell you that as leaders in the commercial computing space we’re going to redefine computing [with a device] that happens to make voice calls and sit in your pocket, that’s something different,” Hartsfield says.

HP says it won’t be selling the device though mobile phone carriers, but rather through its regular computer resellers and integrators. And nor will it be sold just as a phone, Hartsfield says: customers will only be able to buy it bundled either with a “Lap Dock” – a laptop-type device that has no computer power of its own, but which connects to the Elite x3 and supplies it with a big screen, a keyboard, trackpad and an extra battery – or a “Desk Dock”, which connects to phone to desktop devices including a screen, keyboard, mouse and extra storage.

Pricing for the bundles has yet to be set, but HP was aiming to make the Elite x3 and Lap Dock bundle “significantly” cheaper than it would cost to buy a phone and a regular laptop.

Second display

The strategy is based around a feature in Windows 10 Mobile known as “Continuum”, which allows the operating system to create a second display on an external monitor, a display that looks and acts more like a Windows 10 PC than a Windows phone. Many of Microsoft’s own business applications, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint, have already been rewritten to work in Continuum, providing users with a phone-like experience when they view the app on the phone’s own screen, and with a PC-like experience, replete with keyboard and mouse control, when they open the same app on a second, larger screen.

“We’re probably leading Microsoft a little bit on Continuum, because I think we’ve had a lot deeper thoughts about how powerful the features can become for next-gen computing. We’re pushing really hard and I think we have a deeper vision of where Continuum should be in the market,” Hartsfield says.

That thinking has been informed by research HP conducted into how people used mobile phones.

Millennials, Hartsfield says, already use their phones as computers anyway, so coming up with a computer that actually is a phone is not as big a stretch as it might sound to older generations.

Personal device

“I would consume media on a phone, but I would never create a spreadsheet on it,” he says. “But the data says that millennials don’t share that opinion. Independent of computing task, almost two thirds of the time they reach for the one-handed device.”

And even for older generations, the phone has begun to replace the PC for certain tasks. HP’s research found that more than 40 per cent of the population of any age will use their phone to reply to an email, even when they’re sitting right in front of a PC with their email app on the screen.

“That’s amazing to me,” Hartsfield says.

“The phone is a very personal device. It’s the only device that you typically hold against your face. It’s the only device that people will take with them almost everywhere.”

Part of HP’s pitch to business will simply be that it’s easier for organisations to manage one, universal device – a phone that doubles as a PC when you attach a screen – than it is to manage both phones and PCs.

“The beauty of the solution from an [IT manager’s] perspective is, there are fewer endpoints. The phone is the only device that has a brain and gets managed. The Lap Dock and the Desk Dock are just dumb peripherals. They’re accessories. There are no brains in them, so there’s nothing to manage.”

Just how many brains there are in HP’s attempt to reinvent computing seems to be something of an open question, though.

Foad Fadaghi, managing director of the telecommunications consultancy Telsyte, says the strategy does present HP with a way to “outflank” competitors in the mobile phone space by harnessing HP’s strength in the enterprise market. However, it faces two significant challenges.

Own device

One challenge is that it relies on enterprises buying the HP phones for their workers, at a time when it’s more popular for workers to supply their own phones. Forty-six per cent of Australian enterprises support the so-called “bring your own device” method of rolling out technology, but only 29 per cent support the “choose your own device” method that HP would rely on, according to Telsyte figures.

The other challenge is that Windows 10 Mobile in Continuum mode simply isn’t as good as Windows 10 as a computer platform.

If workers don’t want to use Windows phones as phones, and if they’re not as good as PCs at computing, then why bother?

For his part, HP’s Keith Hartsfield admits his next-generation computer revolution is still in its early days, with problems that need to be ironed out.

“It won’t be all things to all people, but it will be meaningful for a significant number of people in the beginning,” he says.

John Davidson was flown to Singapore by HP for this story

By John Davidson
Posted on:


Brisbane Hosting & Website Hosting’s products and services include Website Hosting, Domain Names, DNS Services, Website Development, Website Design, Website Revamps, Website Maintenance, Social Media Campaigns and more.

Contact Brisbane Hosting on (07) 3889 2977 or via email for further information and quote today.

Apple introduces new Watch OS, brings Siri to Mac and YouTube

It’s saying something that the most exciting announcement at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference keynote this year might well have been the news that Apple TV owners will soon be able to control YouTube with their voice, telling their TV to “Search YouTube for cute pug videos”.

It says two things: it says that voice control of YouTube on your TV is an addictive, bordering-on-life-changing feature, as Android TV owners already know; and it says that Apple’s annual software developer conference in San Francisco, once boiling over with major announcements, was set to a high simmer this year, with plenty of small announcements and few major ones.

The Apple Watch will be getting a new operating system that makes applications easier to launch, and makes them launch faster. iPhone owners will be able to wake their phones just by lifting them, the way Android users have been able to do for years, and they’ll get to see long-forgotten photos that their phone will automatically dredge up for them. Apple Macs will be getting a new operating system that incorporates the Siri personal assistant, so computer users will be able to talk to their desktop and notebook computers the way they talk to their phones.

Indeed, the relationship between iPhones and Macs will be drawing even closer than ever. Other new features in macOS (the operating system that powers Apple’s computers) include improvements in Continuity, the system that allows Apple devotees to commence a task on one Apple device and continue it on another. Now Apple users will have a “Universal Clipboard” across all their devices, so that something copied into to clipboard, say, of their iPad, will be available for pasting on their Mac. And not just text. Photos and videos can get transferred between devices using the Universal Clipboard, too.

Voice search on Apple TV devices (tiny set-top boxes which Apple sells for $269) won’t just be limited to cute pug videos on YouTube. Apple says it has now catalogued some 650,000 movies and TV shows, and Apple TV owners will be able to call up content with their voice by saying to their TV such things as  “Show movies about baseball” or “Find high school comedies from the ’80s”.

If none of that got Apple developers excited, the company did throw them a bone: major Apple apps such as Maps, Messages and Siri, have all been turned into platforms that third-party developers can accessing, allowing them to incorporate hitherto Apple-only features into their own apps. So the most exciting feature to come out of this year’s WWDC may not be cute pug videos after all, but may be some non-Apple app yet to come.

By John Davidson
Read more:

Brisbane Hosting & Website Hosting’s products and services include Website Hosting, Domain Names, DNS Services, Website Development, Website Design, Website Revamps, Website Maintenance, Social Media Campaigns and more.

Contact Brisbane Hosting on (07) 3889 2977 or via email for further information and quote today.

Why the iPad Pro could be good for Microsoft

Apple’s new iPad – though not expected to sell like crazy – could lift the entire market for large, touchscreen tablets, boosting the fortunes of Microsoft, Dell and several other hardware makers.

Going on sale in November, the iPad Pro comes with features and accessories designed to make it more suitable as a work machine than the first nine iPad models. Its screen size is just a centimetre less than the MacBook Pro’s 13-inch display, and it weighs half as much as the laptop. It supports running multiple apps at once and works well with speedy Internet connections.

In fact, in introducing the iPad Pro at an event in San Francisco on Thursday, Apple stated that the processor and display on the iPad Pro were superior to many popular laptops. Most demos focused on using the iPad Pro to create, edit and calculate, a stark leap from five years ago when then-Apple chief executive Steve Jobs introduced the iPad as a thing to read, watch and listen.

Hardware analysts say the new capabilities along with a stylus and keyboards sold separately should instantly make the iPad Pro attractive to workers in health care, construction and other industries. They could find the new device more tenable to work on than a big-screened smartphone and less clunky to lug around than small laptops.

But because many companies remain tethered to programs that work only on Microsoft Windows, corporate equipment purchasers aren’t likely to jump for the $US799 iPad Pro let alone the $US1079 high-end option with a cellular chip.

Apple is closing that gap by having vendors such as IBM, Cisco, Adobe and even Microsoft make their technology work well with iPhones, iPads and Macs. The recently announced deal with Cisco, for instance, means iPhone users will enjoy higher-quality video chats than Android users when in offices powered by Cisco networking equipment.

The deals are significant, but not enough for the iPad Pro to become the device of choice inside businesses, said J.P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst at consulting firm Forrester Research.

“Companies have invested lots of money into legacy software not available or not effective in iOS,” he said, referring to the iPad’s operating system. “That’s going to make it very challenging to move your workforce to the new device.”

What the new iPad does do is give credibility to more laptop-like tablets, said Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director for tablets at IDC.

Microsoft’s Surface Pro line of big tablets, first unveiled three years ago, only recently started to catch on. Now, as people buzz about the iPad Pro and possibly buy one and bring it to work, more corporate technology managers could be forced to give the Surface or newly announced competitors from Dell, Toshiba and Lenovo a second look, analysts said.

Dell’s decision this week to sell and provide technical support for the Surface Pro 3 to businesses “will further turbocharge the energy” around the iPad Pro’s Windows-based rivals, Gownder said.

That momentum is why IDC estimates shipments for larger, so-called two-in-one tablets will expand by 80 percent in the U.S. next year, while purchasing of traditional, smaller tablets drops 11 percent.

The iPad Pro is “a refresh for my old iPad and a refresh for my laptop,” Bouchard said. “It might be a way to not get both.”


By: Paresh Dave
Posted On:

Apple iPhone 6S first review: 3D Touch a gamechanger

When I picked up an iPhone 6S today, my first thought was: “what’s the fuss. It looks much the same as last year’s model.” But then Apple’s new marketing slogan rang in my ear: “The only things that’s changed is everything.”

I’m not partial to marketing slogans, but I did discover that iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus were different animals when I started playing with them.

And the overwhelming reason is Apple’s signature new feature, 3D Touch — an iPhone adaptation of the Force Touch feature found on the MacBook and Apple Watch.

You still can press your finger on the display as you normally would with the same result as before. But when you press harder than normal and sustain that press for a few moments, magic happens.

In the case of an email, you get to read the email without needing to flick right as you normally would. Once you take your finger off the display, it magically returns to your email list as if nothing has happened. So there’s no need for the extra tap at the top of the screen to close the email you viewed.

But there is another course of action. If instead of disengaging your finger, you press even harder, you effectively “lock” the screen you have just been viewing. So if I want to fixate on one particular email, I first hard press it to open it, and then press even harder to lock it into place. There is no need to swipe at all.

This procedure worked for other apps. When I tried the messages app, for example, I could press on the hyperlink in a message and the web page that was linked to would display in Safari. If I then let go, it would disappear.

So with 3D Touch, a strong press lets you temporarily access something that’s referenced in the email, message or whatever you are looking at, and letting go ends that access. Again, you have the option of pressing harder to lock the web page into place.

Its not only websites that open this way. Should the message instead have a date or time, a hard press will open the calendar. Should it be a recognised flight number, you’ll get an app that shows the detail of your flight.

The net effect of 3D touch is that we’ll soon be doing less swiping and more pressing, which I found more efficient.

Hardware wise, iPhone 6S and 6S Plus bring some changes. There’s now a rose gold colour, so the overall choices are rose gold, silver, gold and space grey.

Apple also has changed the aluminium alloy mix of this phone to what is called 7000 series aluminium, which Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller said was an alloy used in the aerospace industry. Display sizes are 4.7-inches for the 6S ad 5.5-inches for the 6S Plus as before.

The cameras have been upgraded to 12 and 5 megapixels for the back and front facing cameras instead of 8 and 1.2Mp. In my try out, selfies looked sharp and tones were well defined, thanks to the better resolution and a new flash feature where the whole screen lights ups when you take the selfie. Your screen becomes a makeshift flash unit.

The 6S range also can shoot 4K video, but the iPhone doesn’t have a screen that shows that fine resolution. So you’ll have to play that 4K video on another device — such as a 4K TV — to enjoy the full 4K experience.

The new iPhones have Apple’s A9 processor that it says has a 70 per cent faster processor and 90 per cent faster graphics. We’re yet to really test if this is the case. The always-on M9 motion processor that measures activity is now built on the same chip as the A9.

Apple also claims that fingerprint recognition is much faster due to a new Touch-ID sensor.

The other part of my tryout involved live photos. Whenever you snap a photo, Apple will quietly take 3 seconds of video: 1.5 seconds before the event and 1.5 seconds after it. This step suggests that the camera is actually quietly taking video in anticipation of you pressing the shutter to get the “before the event” vision.

You get to see a tiny bit of this video effect as you flick through photos in the Photos app. On the other hand, if you “3D touch” the photo — i.e. press down hard — you see the entire 3 seconds.

It work fine, but personally I don’t need live photos. Others I’m sure will disagree.

In the US, Apple has announced an iPhone upgrade program where users can pay a monthly fee and receive a new iPhone annually, but Apple Australia says there is no current plan to bring the iPhone Upgrade Program to Australia.

The new iPhones will cost the same as last year’s models in the US, but due to the declining Australian dollar, the price downunder is rising. In fact none of the new iPhones are under $A1000.

The iPhone 6S will cost $1,079 for the 16GB model, $1,229 for the 64GB model and A$1,379 for the 128GB model. The respective costs for iPhone 6S are $1,229, $1,379 and $1,529. So iPhone is getting expensive in Australia.

Apple usually hedges its prices based on what the exchange rate is now and how this might change so that it can keep a consistent retail price through to the next model’s release. Sometimes it alters a price midway through a model’s life, but usually not.

Preorders begin in Australia on Saturday with handsets available from September 25.

In some ways the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus aren’t a huge departure from last year’s models, but 3D Touch, quick actions, higher resolution cameras, the selfies flash mode and live photos offer an improved user experience.

Chris Griffith travelled to San Francisco courtesy of Apple.


By Chris Griffith, Senior Technology Journalist, Sydney
Posted on:

Qld Police uses drones for forensic investigations

Queensland Police Service has expanded its fleet of remotely piloted aircraft by rolling out two custom drones to the forensic services group.

Qld Police Minister Jo-Ann Miller said images captured by the drones would provide invaluable evidence in court.

“These new drones will offer investigators the opportunity to record a comprehensive aerial overview of crime scenes – something that they haven’t been able to do before now,” Miller said.

“The drones will also be used in the forensic search for evidence in places that were previously inaccessible – for example, on a roof, down a cliff or over a very large distance.”

The first drone is an off the shelf four-motor DJI Inspire worth over $5000. The other is a custom built eight-motor drone costing $18,000. Both drones are fitted with a 4K resolution camera capable of taking stills, video and 3D images.

Queensland Police began looking for options to use drones in 2010 and was approved by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in 2013. Officers must first complete CASA flight training before piloting the drones.

So far, the Queensland government has committed $23,000 to QPS for drones and training, with CASA flight training costing around $5500.

The drones have already been used in forensic investigations, the first being a house fire in Beenleigh last month. Pilots were able to gather data from angles not usually accessible to forensic investigators in order to analyse structural damage from above.

QPS also has a ground control station, allowing pilots to communicate with airports when a drone is flying, as well as signalling its position to other aircraft in the sky. Under CASA regulations, commercial drones are limited to flying under 121 metres.

The drones are constructed from carbon fibre and have a battery life of around 15 minutes. Each drone weighs just over 2kg when equipped with cameras.

Sergeant Clint Hanson is the only member of the forensics group who has been certified to fly the drones so far. QSP expects to have at least three or four pilots trained by the end of the year.

Published on:,photos-qld-police-uses-drones-for-forensic-investigations.aspx/1 


Google wristband could give doctors constant stream of patient data

Google has developed a medical-grade wearable device that can stream patient data like pulse and heart rate to doctors. The device is designed for use in medical settings and won’t be geared toward consumers looking to track fitness activities

The wearable can measure a patient’s pulse, activity level, skin temperature and heartbeat rhythm. It’s also able to monitor light levels and light exposure. This data could be used to learn more about patient behavior outside of the hospital and better treat ailments, Google said Tuesday. For example, data showing that a person isn’t moving around frequently or spending limited time outdoors could indicate illness, Google said.

Don’t expect to use the device to track sleeping patterns or count steps. Unlike consumer-focused health and fitness wearables and smartwatches, Google’s “cardiac and activity sensor” device is designed for medical settings, the company said.

Health-monitoring features are available in smartwatches running Android Wear as well as the Apple Watch and fitness trackers from companies like Fitbit. However, doctors are reluctant to incorporate these wearables into patient care because the devices’ sensors haven’t been validated for accuracy. In order to accept wearables, physicians need devices with medical-grade sensors that take precise readings, critics have said.

The search giant’s life sciences group, which is part of the Google X research division, developed the wristband, which resembles a smartwatch with a square display with rounded corners attached to a wristband. Google didn’t immediately reply to questions about the wearable’s battery life and if it runs Android Wear.

Google is working with several research partners on medical studies to determine if receiving a constant stream of data can help doctors better treat disease, said Jacquelyn Miller, a Google spokeswomen. The company didn’t provide details on what conditions it is studying.

Gauging the device’s usefulness in clinical settings could take several years, Miller said. If the wearable proves beneficial to care givers, Google will look for partners to build the device, she said.

Google’s other life sciences projects include a contact lens that can monitor a person’s blood sugar levels. The company is also contributing its sensor technology and imaging technology to a robot-assisted surgical platform.

By Fred O’Connor, IDG News Service
Published in: