Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ (3)

When it first appeared as a variant of the Galaxy Note last year, Samsung’s ‘Edge’ design brought something properly new, if arguably pointless, to mobile devices. Other phones have bigger or smaller or squarer or longer screens, but they’re all flat. Here’s a screen that goes all the way to the, well, edge, and wraps around. It may just be a few millimetres, but it’s enough to feel startlingly futuristic.

The S6 Edge+ is a big phone, or ‘phablet’

The Galaxy Note Edge curved only at the right, where it had a special column of icons – a cross between a home screen and a totem pole. This screen, as with the smaller Galaxy S6 Edge announced earlier this year, has curves at both sides, though the software still focuses on the right. The S6 Edge+ is a big phone, or ‘phablet’, but while the 5.7in screen is wider than an iPhone 6 Plus, because it wraps around, the whole device is narrower. you can put it in your zip bag of your     best double stroller for infant and toddler if you are using one.Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ (1)

Maybe there’s a practical benefit to this curve business after all. Tap a tab at the top of the screen, and five icons pop out down the right-hand side for your favourite contacts, while the left edge does the same thing with apps. Unfortunately, the curve actually makes them harder to use, not easier. A better idea is the Night Clock feature, which shows the date and time constantly along the edge, so when you look across from your pillow to where your phone is lying you can see it straight away.

it’s a great pick.

If you turn on Information Stream, notifications scroll along this strip too. As befits a top-of-the-range phone, the S6 Edge+ has plenty of advanced features. The GPS, accelerometer, barometer and gyroscope tell apps where you are and which way up. A fingerprint scanner built into the Home button provides a quicker way to unlock than entering a passcode, and can also activate a contactless chip to pay at tills via Samsung Pay, although unlike Apple Pay you can’t actually use Samsung’s payment system in the UK yet.Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ (2)

A fast processor and 4GB of memory ensure the S6 Edge+ races through any task. Web pages and games are super- smooth. It’s also energy-efficient, lasting us 13.5 hours of video – less than some phones these days – and it’s compatible with wireless charging mats. The 16-megapixel rear camera produces well-balanced shots outside. Indoors, the flash can be a bit harsh, but unless it’s really dark you don’t really need it.

There’s 32GB of storage as standard, but no slot for adding more, so you’ll have to pay £80 extra up front for the 64GB version if that’s not enough. That comes to only £20 less than the 64GB iPhone 6s Plus, which has Apple’s neater operating system, the new 3D Touch feature and an electronic payment system that works today. While Samsung’s camera matches the 6s Plus’s optical stabilisation, avoiding camera shake, it doesn’t have Apple’s 4K video resolution. The S6 Edge+ doesn’t add anything except size to the S6 Edge, which came out a few months ago, and is a lot more expensive than the plainer S6. But if you like phablets, Android and wraparound screens, it’s a great pick.

VERDICT: We’d have like a memory card slot and more innovations, but the Edge+ is impressive
★★★★☆
ALTERNATIVE: iPhone6s Plus £619 Anything Samsung can do, Apple just keeps doing better–except curvy screens

Sync passwords across devices for free

lastpass-hacked-passwords-stolen

While the popular password manager LastPass was always free to use on your PC, previously you had to pay £10 a year to use its mobile apps. Now, however, you can install and use LastPass’ excellent features on any phone or tablet (Android and iOS) for free.

Install it on a second mobile device of the same type (phone or tablet) and your account details will automatically sync to that device. Install it on a second mobile device of the same type (phone or tablet) and your account details will automatically sync to that device. You can’t sync your account between a phone and tablet unless you upgrade to the £10 yearly plan.

  • Step 1 step 1

    We’ll be using the Android phone app for this Workshop, but the process is pretty much the same on all mobile operating systems. Tap the Mobile tab at the top right, then the Download link beside the type of device you want to install LastPass on. Open the app, tap Sign Up (or Log In if you already have an account). Now enter your email address, tap Next, enter and confirm a master password 1 , type a Password reminder (optional) 2 , tap Create Account 3 , Log In, then Now. The LastPass menu will slide in from the left.

  • Step 2 step 2

    We’ll first show you how to save your password for any website that requires you to log in. Tap Browser in the menu to open LastPass’ secure browser, where you’ll see a Google search box. Now type the name of a website you need to log into (for example, Yahoo Mail), open it and enter your login details 1 . Before tapping ‘Sign in’, tap the grey LastPass icon (an asterisk) beside a login field 2 (username, password etc). You’ll see a message asking you if LastPass should save your password. Tap Yes to confirm.

  • Step 3: step 3

    To reveal and confirm your password, tap the eye icon beside the password field 1 . From now on, whenever you try to access that website, your login fields will be automatically filled out. However, you can tick the Require Password RePrompt and Never AutoFill boxes 2 if you don’t want that to happen. On the other hand, if you want to automatically log into that website, tick AutoLogin 3 .

  • Step 4step 4

    LastPass also lets you create a ‘form profile’ in which you save your personal information. When filling out online forms, you simply select the profile that’s relevant to the information required and LastPass automatically enters this data. To create a form profile, tap the three lines at the top left to open the LastPass menu, then tap Form Fill Profiles 1 . Tap the red ‘+’ symbol 2 , then Add Form Fill Profile. You’ll see different categories for personal info, contact info and credit-card info. Fill in the required fields for your first profile, then tap the Save icon at the top right. Repeat this process to create as many profiles as you need.

  • Step 5 step 5 1

    Now whenever you want to fill a form on your mobile device, simply tap the profile icon/LastPass icon, select the appropriate profile, and all the fields in your form will be filled based on the information you provided. By default, LastPass doesn’t autofill login and form fields in other apps on your device, but it’s easy to enable this option. Open the LastPass menu, tap Settings, App File, tick ‘Fill logins in other apps’ 1 , tap OK, LastPass, tap the slider to turn it on, then OK to confirm.

  • Step 6 step 5

    You can also create ‘secure notes’ in LastPass – useful for storing sensitive information, such as your bank account details, passport info, software licence codes and Wi-Fi password. To create a secure note, tap the red ‘+’ symbol at the bottom right, Add Secure Note, then tap to select a note category (there are 16 categories, including the four mentioned above). Fill out the fields you need 1 , then tap Save 2 at the top right. You can tap the red ‘+’ symbol and add more notes.

  • Step 7 step 7

    Finally, we’ll show you how to create strong passwords that are impossible to crack. Open the LastPass menu and tap Generate Password. You’ll see a random password. Tap Settings to see options to strengthen it. You can now increase the length of the password 1 or make it possible to pronounce 2 . Tap Save 3 when you’ve finished. Now enter the URL of the website, your username login, then tap Save at the top right. In future, whenever you install and log into the app on a second phone, you’ll see all your saved details. To sync your changes across all your devices (PCs, phones and tablets), you need to upgrade to the £10 yearly plan. To do that, open the LastPass menu, tap Go Premium, Upgrade Now, then Buy to confirm the payment via your Google account. ●

Unlock Kaspersky 2016’s hidden protection

kaspersky-2016-trial-reset

The latest version of Kaspersky Internet Security (2016) is the best antivirus program we’ve ever used and it’s compatible with every version of Windows, including Windows 10. You can now download it from our Software Store at half price. We’ll show you how to use its powerful scan functions and activate its hidden protection and security features. You can also monitor the program remotely and use its enhanced browser tools to safeguard your sensitive information from cybercriminals.

  1. Step 1 :If you’re using an antivirus program other than Kaspersky, uninstall it before installing Kaspersky Internet Security (KIS) because you can’t run two antivirus programs simultaneously. If you’re using an older version of KIS (2014 or 2015, for example), that version will automatically be uninstalled when you install KIS 2016. As soon as the program installs, you should update its virus definitions. Click Update 1 , then the ‘Run update’ button. Once that’s done, click the top-left Back button to return to the main screen, then click Scan 2 .step 1
  2. Step 2 You’ll see a list of four scan types 1 . Full Scan checks your entire PC and can take up to an hour or more, while Quick Scan checks your PC’s most important areas (including system files) and takes only a few minutes. Selective Scan lets you scan specific files or folders. You can either drag and drop them into the Selective Scan’s main section 2 or click the Add button 3 , navigate to the item, then click Select. Click ‘Run scan’ 4 to begin.step 2
  3. Step 3 To schedule a scan, click the ‘Scan schedule’ dropdown menu 1 , which contains two options – Full Scan and Quick Scan. Click either to see the ‘Run scan’ dropdown menu, which is set to ‘manually’ by default. Change this to another value, such as ‘every day’ or ‘every weekday’ 2 , and the window will expand to reveal more options. Set a specific time to run your scan, then tick the relevant box(es) 3 to run your scan the next day if your PC is switched off at the time you scheduled and/or run the scan only when your PC is locked. Click Save 4 after making your changes.step 3
  4. Step 4 :We’ll now delve deeper into KIS 2016’s settings. Go to the program’s main screen (by clicking the top-left Back button), click the Additional Tools button, then click Privacy Protection at the top left. You’ll see how your browsing habits are exposing you to various tracking services 1 . To block these, click the Settings link 2 , then select ‘Block detected requests’. Now click the Back button. To delete PC data that can be used to track you (including cache, logs and cookies), click the Privacy Cleaner link 3 , click Next to begin the scan, then Next again to delete any identified items. Tick ‘Reboot the computer’, then click Finish.step 4
  5. Step 5: KIS 2016 is the first version to let you manage your device’s security remotely from any browser. To activate this feature, open KIS, click Additional Tools, Management Console, then click ‘Connect the computer to My Kaspersky’. Click ‘Register now’, enter your email address and
    a password, tick to accept the privacy statement, then click Register. Now go to the email Kaspersky sends you and click the link within it to activate your account. In your browser, enter your password when prompted, click ‘Activate and sign in’, then Done. Now, as long as your PC is switched on, you can go to https://center.kaspersky.com on any browser on any PC, log into your account and click the Manage button below your listed device. You can now check whether any threats have been detected on your PC 1 , monitor Kaspersky’s update status 2 and even change its settings remotely 3 .step 5
  6. Step 6 Another useful feature, which is hidden away, lets you scan your PC for any settings that could be potentially exploited by hackers. Go to the Additional Tools section, click Vulnerability Scan, then click ‘Run scan’. Any detected vulnerabilities will be highlighted at the bottom. Click it to see a list highlighting which ones need fixing 1 . Now simply click those items, then click Fix 2 . Next, click the back button 3 twice to return to the Tools section, click Microsoft Windows Troubleshooting at the bottom left, then click Next. KIS will now run a scan for any PC damage caused by malware activity. Follow the steps to fix any problems, if found.step 6
  7. Step 7 Now go to the main KIS screen, click the Settings (cog) icon 1 , click Protection in the left-hand pane, then scroll to the bottom. All sliders, except for three, are turned on by default. Turn on System Changes Control 2 to stop others making changes to your system and network settings. Kaspersky Internet Security 2016 has one of the most secure anti-spam filters of any antivirus program we’ve used, so click the Anti-Spam slider 3 to turn it on. You can then decide what you want to do with spam emails by selecting an option from the Spam dropdown menu 4 , then clicking Accept. Finally, click the Anti-Banner slider to turn that on.step 7
  8. Step 8 We’ll now show you how to use Safe Money, which protects your online transactions. Return to the main screen and click Safe Money. Now type your bank website’s URL or any that requires your credit-card details (such as Amazon or eBay 1 ), then click Add 2 . In future, whenever you open that website, it’ll run in a separate browser window with an orange border, indicating that Kaspersky is protecting any information you enter. Click On-Screen Keyboard 3 and use it to enter sensitive data (such as bank details or passwords) into any website. This prevents keyloggers from detecting what you type.step 8
  9. Step 9 Return to the main screen and click Parental Control. Here, you can tick various options to stop other users performing certain actions (such as removing or exiting Kaspersky). Tick the boxes you want, click Create Password, type a password, then click Enter. Now click the ‘Configure restrictions’ link below the PC user whose access you want to restrict. You’ll see various options, including blocking access between certain hours on weekdays and weekends 1 ,stopping access to certain programs 2 , restricting access to particular websites 3 and even blocking messaging programs 4 . Turn on the slider 5 to activate your settings.step 9
  10. Step 10 :Kaspersky automatically installs its security extension for Chrome and Firefox browsers. When you open your browser, click Allow and Continue to accept this. The green hexagonal-shaped Kaspersky extension 1 gives you easy access to the on-screen keyboard 2 . It also tells you how many trackers it’s blocked on the website you’re currently on 3 . Only click the button below 4 if you trust the website. Whenever any unrecognised program tries to launch in the background on your PC, Kaspersky will block it and you’ll see a pop-up in your PC’s notification area. Only click ‘Allow startup’ if you’re sure that program is safe.step 10

Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi

asus t300 (3)

When we tested the T300’s little brother, the T100, we found it somewhat limited. But the idea of a laptop that doubles as a tablet has undeniable appeal. This model has a bigger screen, but it’s more portable than the HP Envy x360 (see page 19) and, with a £70 discount from its launch price at the time of writing, costs the same.

While using the HP as a tablet means folding the screen back on itself, the T300’s keyboard detaches completely, leaving a more iPad-like touchscreen unit. An Apple-style ‘unibody’ aluminium design (meaning no plastic panels, seams or screws) makes the T300 slim and solid. The keyboard and screen sections lock together magnetically, so attaching them is easy, and detaching is… well, maybe slightly too easy, but we didn’t manage to drop either of them. The connection betweeen the two sections is wireless, via Bluetooth.

That means the keyboard has its own battery. If you want to charge it at the same time as the screen unit, Asus has bizarrely put their ports on opposite sides, so you have to run a cable across from one to the other, which feels daft. There’s no room for full-size USB sockets, but instead of the latest USB Type-C you get a single Micro-B port. No peripherals will come with the right cable for this, so to help you out, Asus has thrown in a little hub that gives you three USB 3.0 ports.asus t300 (1)

It’s an awkward solution, but at least, unlike with the Apple MacBook, you don’t have to pay extra for it. Like the MacBook however, the T300 uses a processor from Intel’s brand new power-efficient Core M series. With no need for a fan, the T300 is silent, and it matched the performance we’d expect of a Core i3 machine. The built-in Intel HD Graphics 5300 is poor for 3D games or any task requiring a graphics card, but that’s as you’d expect. Despite its lean processor and fanless operation, the T300 managed to wear out its battery in six hours 49 minutes of moderate use.

Benefits from a vibrant screen and robust keyboard

Continuous video or web browsing will push this well under six hours. You can still use this tablet while lying down on your best rated mattress . That’s better than the Envy x360, but less than we’d expect from a Windows tablet. Some of the juice is used by the screen, which packs 2560×1440 pixels into 12.5 inches. It’s incredibly sharp, with plenty of contrast, and covered an excellent 99 per cent of sRGB in our tests, giving vibrant colours. Its one major flaw was the backlight showing through around the edges when displaying dark images. This could be quite distracting when watching a film. The keyboard is broad enough not to feel cramped, and we found typing comfortable, although the absence of key lighting makes it harder in a dark room. The small touchpad worked smoothly.asus t300 (2)

While all the brains for the machine are behind the screen, the keyboard part is only 60g lighter, so the T300 doesn’t tip backwards when used as a laptop. As a tablet, this leaves you with a unit similar in size and weight to the forthcoming iPad Pro, but the T300’s widescreen shape is harder to balance in your hand. The iPad Pro has an even sharper screen and an 8-megapixel camera, and its performance should be comparable. But even without a keyboard, it’ll cost at least £150 more with the same 128GB of storage, and it won’t run desktop programs.

The T300 comes with Windows 8.1, upgradable free of charge to 10. A closer rival to the T300 is Microsoft’s Surface 3, which also has much longer battery life. The 10.8in version with 128GB and Type Cover (keyboard) costs about the same as the T300, but for a 12in screen you’d have to look at the Surface Pro, which is much more expensive.

The Power of Google

The power of google

When you think of Google, search engines and emails may come to mind, but there is a lot more to the company than just these runaway successes. It is true that Google dominates search and email, but did you know that YouTube is owned and powered by Google and so are many other online services that you may already be aware of. Over time, Google has grown from a company that provides the best search engine on the internet to one that can power almost every aspect of our computing lives. Google now provides the most popular email service in the world and enables people to store billions of documents online.

It provides ultra-fast broadband and the operating system for the most popular smartphones – it sometimes feels that everything it launches becomes a global success. Google is with us all of the time, in the background and at the forefront of our productivity, leisure and travelling. The network of apps and services come together to create an ecosystem that has naturally grown and feeds off each part. Google is much more than just a company and the products are much more than mere tools. Google is everywhere.

Google’s reach

There are three tech companies in the world that most of us will have heard of: Microsoft, Apple and Google. However, only Google has managed to infiltrate our lives in a complete way in a relatively short period and the reach is growing all of the time. Millions of us use Google services for email and even more utilise the company for web searches on desktop computers, laptops, phones and tablets. It does not stop there, though, because the superbly reliable calendar software organises individuals and companies alike, and even online video is dominated by Google thanks to YouTube. All of this is incredibly impressive, but it is just the tip of an ever-growing iceberg and the more we think about Google, the more advantages we find. We can navigate for free anywhere in the world and view 3D recreations of famous places using Google MapsThe power of google

We can store and share our photos online whenever the mood strikes us and Google Now is there to automatically prompt us when an event is happening, or to offer information that is pertinent to what we are doing next. Remarkably, the services that we have mentioned so far, which have a huge impact on our lives, are not even close to covering all of what Google offers – the list is never ending to the point that Google is no longer thought of as just a company. We say to ‘Google it’ when undertaking a web search. People describe their smartphone as their ‘Android’ and for many people ‘Gmail’ is the only word they use to describe email. Google services are embedded in our subconscious to the point that we no longer even think about them as single entities. They are just there, being useful in their individual duties and empowering us to do more every minute of every day.

Google culture

There is no doubt that Google has become cool in a way that few organisations have managed and this has been highlighted by the release of the Google-focused The Internship, a comedy film that concentrates on the kind of wacky thinking that achieves greatness. It also highlights the working environment, which looks like a dream workplace in comparison to the uninspiring environments most of us inhabit on a daily basis, and it highlights the ambitious thinking the company employs.

The power of google

Any organisation that has a company dinosaur on campus called Stan and which lets employees take their dogs to work is obviously thinking outside the box, and that is before we tell you that the company also has a herd of 200 goats alongside a dog and a herder to keep the weeds at a manageable level on the main Google campus. Google has become a source of fascination for many and it is now beyond cool because it is with us all of the time and impacts our imaginations and lives in so many diverse and inventive ways.

And there’s much more…

So, you now have an idea of how inventive Google is and the main services you can use, but there is so much more. If you want to create a presentation, word document or spreadsheet you can do so within an online service called Drive. All of your documents are saved in real-time as you create them and they sit in harmony next to your contacts, emails, photos, calendar events, notes and reminders so that they can all work together to help you succeed. The power of google

You can socialise through Google+, spend hours watching videos on YouTube and share your thoughts by creating a free blog using Blogger. Millions of Android apps will keep your phone or tablet humming and a simple translation from and to every major language in the world is just a couple of clicks away. Video calling, panoramic photos, books, music, image editing, finance, trends, education and… well, the list could go on for a very long time indeed. All of these services work perfectly together and extremely efficiently without any cost, which is why Google is what it is today.

Intel Compute Stick

Intel Compute Stick (1)
  • What is it?Intel Compute Stick (1)

    A four-inch dongle, powered by a quad-core processor, that comes pre-loaded with either Windows 8.1 or Linux. You can plug it into the HDMI slot on your TV, effectively turning your set into a computer, with your Desktop appearing on screen. You can then control it using a wireless or Bluetooth keyboard and mouse (which you’ll need to buy separately). The Compute Stick can also be fitted into any monitor with an HDMI slot. On the official page for the Compute Stick (www.snipca.com/15019) Intel says it’s “everything you love about your desktop computer in a device that fits in the palm of your hand”. That’s a pretty good description.

  • What features does it have?

    Connections include a full-sized USB port. You can increase storage capacity using the microSD card slot. It also has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. However, when it’s plugged into the HDMI slot, it will need to connect to an external power source through the Micro USB port. Intel plans to overcome this hurdle by building future models that can be powered through the HDMI slot.

  • How much does it cost?Intel Compute Stick (1)

    The Windows 8.1 model, which includes 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage is priced $149 (about £99). The Linux version, which is expected to run Ubuntu, has 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage and costs $89 (around £59). Both models should be available to buy from March.

  • Isn’t that a lot pricier than other streaming sticks?

    Yes. The Chromecast (www. google.co.uk/chromecast) costs £30, while the Roku Streaming Stick (www.snipca.com/15020) is priced £45. Amazon’s Fire TV Stick (www.snipca.com/15022), which is currently only available in the US, priced $39, may be even cheaper if and when it arrives in the UK. But these devices are mostly used to stream web pages or videos to your TV, whereas the Compute Stick contains an entire operating system.

  • So what would I use it for?Intel Compute Stick (2)

    “Light productivity,” Intel says, which translates as browsing the web, playing games and streaming videos – just on a much bigger screen, which would aid those with poor eyesight. It wouldn’t be a suitable replacement for your current desktop PC or laptop, but you should consider buying it if you’re looking for a cheap, portable way to carry around Windows 8.1 or Linux. You’ll then be able to plug it into someone’s TV or monitor when visiting their home, or carry it between work and your home.

  • Is this the cheapest way to use a portable version of Windows 8.1?

    Not quite. The Linx 7 Windows 8.1 tablet (www.snipca.com/15021), which costs £79, has a seven-inch screen, making it just small enough to fit inside a large coat pocket. But unlike the Compute Stick, it doesn’t fit snugly inside a front trouser pocket.

  • Is this a brand new idea?Intel Compute Stick (3)

    No. Microsoft got there first with Windows To Go (www.snipca.com/15026), which is a version of Windows 8.1 Enterprise that can be run from a USB stick and is aimed at business workers. However, to run it properly you need a USB 3.0 stick, which can be expensive. The 32GB Kingston DataTraveler Workspace, for example, costs around £75 – and that’s on top of the cost of an 8.1 Enterprise licence. Intel hopes its Compute Stick will attract some of these workers, but also be cheap enough to make it attractive to the public. We’ll review it later this year.

Secret Tips For…Windows MediaPlayer

Secret Tips For…Windows MediaPlayer (3)

See song lyrics, listen to internet radio stations, and play all audio and video formats

  • Use keyboard shortcuts to control your mediaSecret Tips For…Windows MediaPlayer (1)

    Using keyboard shortcuts is the quickest and easiest way to control your PC. Windows Media Player (WMP) has a whole range of keyboard shortcuts for perusing and playing your music and DVD collection. For example, press Ctrl+F to skip to the next track or DVD chapter or Ctrl+B to return to the previous one (an easy way to remember: ‘F’ for Forward and ‘B’ for Back). If you don’t have a media keyboard containing dedicated buttons for Play, Mute and so on, you can use the Function keys to carry out these tasks. The F7 key mutes/unmutes WMP’s sound; F8 and F9 reduce and increase the volume respectively; and Ctrl+S stops a track playing. To see a full list of WMP keyboard shortcuts,

  • Listen to internet radio stations

    If you want a change from your personal music collection, you can tune in to any of the thousands of internet radio stations that are available via WMP. Right-click the light-blue section at the top (beside Play, Burn and Sync at the top right), then move your cursor to View, ‘Online stores’, and click Media Guide. You’ll see a list of genres (including Jazz, Oldies, Country and Classic Rock) at the top. Click one of these to see a list of genre-specific radio stations, then click Listen under a radio station’s thumbnail to play it.

  • Play all media formats on Windows Media Player

    Windows Media Player supports a large number of audio and video formats by default, but there are still many formats, such as DivX and FLAC, that aren’t supported. Thankfully, you can install the free K-Lite Codec Mega Pack, which adds support for hundreds of popular formats to WMP. Go to www.snipca.com/15078 and click the blue Direct Download Link (just above Publisher’s Description).
    Once it’s downloaded, open the installer, and keep clicking Next through all the menus until you reach the page prompting you to install additional software. Untick all the boxes, then tick ‘No Thanks’ to confirm you don’t want these extras. Continue clicking Next to install the codec pack.

  • Control your music when using other programs

    If you want to have instant access to your music player when you’re doing other things on your PC, you can choose to keep Windows Media Player’s Now Playing window on top of your other open windows. Click Organize at the top left, then Options. In the window that opens, click the Player tab, tick the box next to ‘Keep Now Playing on top of other windows’, then click Apply and OK.Secret Tips For…Windows MediaPlayer (1)
    Start playing a track, then press Ctrl+3 to activate Now Playing mode which brings up a small window displaying the track you’re currently playing. You can resize this window by dragging its corners and access the music player controls by moving your cursor over it.

  • See the lyrics of the song you’re playingSecret Tips For…Windows MediaPlayer (2)

    A little-known fact about Windows Media Player is that it supports third-party plug-ins that add new features. For example, you can download the Lyrics Plugin at www.lyricsplugin.com to display the lyrics of any track you play. Click the Download Now button under ‘Lyrics Plugin for Windows Media Player’, then double-click the downloaded file and follow the instructions to install it. Now open WMP, right-click the blue space at the top, click Tools, then ‘Plug-ins’ (see screenshot). You should see the Lyrics Plugin with a tick next to it. Next, start playing a track, then switch to the Now Playing view (by pressing Ctrl+3) to see the lyrics to that song.

The rumours were true– Windows 10 will be a free upgrade

The rumours were true– Windows 10 will be a free upgrade (3)

Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade, but only during the first year after it launches, and only to people currently using Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1. Microsoft announced the news at an event on 21 January, during which it unveiled the next Preview version of Windows 10 (watch the two-hour presentation at www.snipca.com/15127). For months before the event there had been speculation that Windows 10 would be a free upgrade for Windows 8 users, but Microsoft’s decision to make this also available to people on Windows 7 surprised many experts.an-introduction-to-windows-10

Those on Windows Phone 8.1 will also get the free update to Windows 10. However, Microsoft didn’t say how much Windows 10 would cost for people running XP or Vista.Once you’ve upgraded to Windows 10 for free, it will remain on your device for as long as you use it. On its website (www.snipca.com/15119) Microsoft says: “Once a qualified Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it up to date for the supported lifetime of the device, keeping it more secure, and introducing new features and functionality over time – for no additional charge”.
Some Windows users, suspicious of Microsoft’s motives, have asked on social media whether there is a catch. In the above quote, Microsoft has underlined the word ‘qualified’.

Clicking it takes you to the small print: “It is our intent that most of these devices will qualify, but some hardware/software requirements apply and feature availability may vary by device”.Microsoft says that to get the free upgrade, your device “must be connected to the internet and have Windows Update enabled”. These conditions appear to be fairly standard and reasonable. It seems likely that most Computeractive readers using Windows 7 or 8/8.1 will be eligible for the free upgrade.

START MENU RETURNS, CORTANA ARRIVES

Microsoft also confirmed that the Start menu will return in Windows 10, pleasing the many Windows 8 users who have found that its absence makes the operating system hard to operate. It has the list layout familiar to users of Windows 7, combined with the tile set-up of Windows 8. You can pin apps, Desktop programs and folders to the Start menu, giving you easy access to your most
commonly used items. But there’s no search bar in the Start menu. Instead, following feedback from users of the Windows 10 Technical Preview, The rumours were true– Windows 10 will be a free upgrade (1)

Microsoft has integrated the search bar into the Taskbar. This means it will always be visible, rather than only appearing when you open the Start menu. The most innovative new feature in Windows 10 looks set to be Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-activated ‘personal assistant’. Already available on some Windows phones and tablets, Cortana will be built into Windows 10. You can type questions as well as ask them, and tell Cortana to perform actions, such as send emails and take notes. Cortana will also be able to search your hard drives and online OneDrive storage, finding specific file formats and files from time periods – for example, “show me photos from December”.

INTERNET EXPLORER DIES, NEW OFFICE APPS BORN

Microsoft confirmed the rumours we reported in Issue 441 – that it will replace Internet Explorer with a new browser codenamed Project Spartan. Its standout feature is that it lets you draw on and annotate web pages using your keyboard or stylus. It also has a new interface that many observers said looks similar to Google’s Chrome browser. It contains tabs in the title bar, and the address bar inside those tabs. The rumours were true– Windows 10 will be a free upgrade (2)

You will also be able to use Cortana within the new browser, as well as save web pages for offline reading and sync them between devices. The company said that Windows 10 has been designed to adapt to the device it’s on, whether that’s a desktop PC, laptop, Xbox, phone or tablet, and will adjust the user experience to match. This should make it far easier than Windows 8 to use on a traditional desktop PC, with a keyboard and mouse.

However, it also contains a touchscreen interface, similar to Windows 8’s. With Windows 10, any app available from the Windows Store will work on all Windows devices, giving you the same set of apps on your phone, PC and tablet. Microsoft is working on its own set of “universal” apps, with Office, Photos, Music and Outlook Mail set to be the first to launch. It says it wants to “offer a consistent, touch-first experience across phone, tablet and PC”. A day after the event, Microsoft announced that Office 2016 will be released later this year.

AND FINALLY. . . A ‘HOLOGRAPHIC’ HEADSET

The rumours were true– Windows 10 will be a free upgrade (4)

The biggest surprise of the event came in the shape of Windows Holographic. The software, which is built into Windows 10, lets developers create virtual 3D environments which can be displayed to the user via an augmented-reality headset, called HoloLens (see image above). Microsoft suggested it could be used by space scientists exploring a virtual Martian landscape and architects and interior designers planning and visualising construction and décor.

Android Preview

Android

Let’s all be honest here, Android was pretty rubbish when itfirst came out in 2008. Android 1.0 was in a very infant state; it wasn’t really fair to compare it to iOS at the time, which had a massive headstart as it was Apple’s innovation baby at the time. But now iOS and Android have improved so much, at times both operating systems intertwine to a point where they seem almost identical. Google got us by surprise with the announcement of Android N.

It was announced even before Google’s I/O event in May. Marshmallow 6.0 (Android M) only started rolling out properly a little while ago. Google is now more than halfway through the alphabet (maybe it will move to the Klingon alphabet?). You can try Android N yourself; the developer’s preview is available for all (have a look at our How To guide). Android N has been dubbed by some as the next upgrade. It is but this is the first preview with only a handful of new features on showcase. It is more Android 6.1, with mostly aesthetic upgrades and some cool features we immediately fell in love with. It is a great sign of what’s to come for Android. Expect more previews in the run up to summer.

  • Notifications

    Notifications get a huge revamp in the aesthetics department with a fresh look and making use of huge screens. Notifications are now wider, taking up more of the screen to reveal more information without having to tap in. Notifications are also bundled to avoid a massive list sprawling down your phone. Tapping into your notifications reveal options, so you can archive emails or even silence your Twitter feed, without having to enter the native apps Direct reply Google has listened to the feedback and it has delivered. Android Preview (4)Direct replying from notifications is now a native Android feature. This should be in the top two of features that survives the eventual cull, before Android N’s official unveiling and rebranding. Third-party apps worked very well with direct replying. WhatsApp suffered no lag or crashing, nor did messages fail to get through. The convenience needs no description here; iOS users know this luxury fully well. We want to see it applied to social media, replying directly to Snapchat messages would save a lot of time.

  • Settings

    Google is embracing the big phones with Android N, as more people are buying devices with more screen real estate. Android N settings reveal more information on screen to cut down screen tapping. The benefit here is pretty obvious. Android Preview (6)Underneath each option is the information you would desire. Storage shows how many gigabytes you have got left, apps reveal how many have been installed and battery reveals the lifespan in percentage (not on the home screen weirdly) and timespan. There’s also a swipe-out side menu when you are in settings. We don’t think it really saves steps but it is pretty handy, not having to reach down to the back button.

  • Quick settingsAndroid Preview (7)

    Google has taken a note out of Samsung’s book here with the quick settings up top. TouchWiz and HTC Sense proved even though it is a small feature, it is one that is extremely useful. You can turn on your flashlight, turn on mobile data and switch off Wi-Fi with ease. Drag down the quick settings opens up more setting options, which is now paginated to accommodate more options. The options can be edited and swapped around so that your most used ones can be a quick setting. Customisation is what the Android experience is all about and it is now even more so, much to our delight.

  • Night mode

    Night Mode is sneakily hidden in the system UI. You can find it by swiping down the quick settings menu and long pressing the settings button on the top right. Your phone will congratulate you, saying you have unlocked the system UI tuner. Tap into system UI tuner and you will find a feature Google omitted from the Android M preview, and that was even more sneakily hidden. Night Mode is a feature we hope won’t get curved to the side this time. Android Preview (1)
    It most likely won’t, seeing as it appeared last year, but more so because iOS 9.3 introduced Night Mode just recently. Turning on Night Mode applies a brownish tint, much like a pair of sunglasses, on your screen to save you from that bright and powerful QHD display. It can also be set to turn on automatically, depending on the time zone you are in. We are assuming it is supposed to be on at sunset but it is quite finicky and forgot its cue. Night Mode was by far the buggiest feature out of the bunch. At the time of writing we can’t seem to get out of it…

  • Multi Window

    This was the first Android N feature to be confirmed. Via a Reddit AMA, the Pixel C team confirmed it was working on the feature three months ago. Samsung and LG already enjoy multi-window in their Android skins; it’s probably the showiest feature in Android N. By simply holding down the multitasking button, you’ll be treated to two windows to play with.Android Preview (2)
    It is not refined as expected being a preview. You can’t watch videos while browsing Facebook. Videos pause as soon as you touch the other window. Samsung’s TouchWiz can do this no problem, even playing two videos at the same time (which is obviously futile). Hopefully Google fixes this. Watching a video while looking at Facebook is a very common practice. Multi- window will be a lot more useful for tablets and would definitely help shift a lot more Nexus tablets.

  • Doze mode

    A sleeper hit from Android Marshmallow, Google’s sneaky way to make your device save a lot more energy. The best way to describe it is a deep standby mode. Android N evolves Doze Mode by enabling it to thoroughly limit background tasks when on standby. Doze Mode had some criticism, with some users complaining it doesn’t really work. Android Preview (3)
    This is due to deteriorating battery life as a device ages, so the average person wouldn’t really notice Doze Mode in action. We found Doze Mode to be a lot more effective in Android N, extended battery life is always a winner and you can be sure to expect this revamp to make it into the final version of Android N. Doze Mode 2.0 is basically Batman, always in the dark, rescuing you without you realising. Doze Mode 2.0 is the hero you deserve but not the one you get right now.

  • Multi tasking

    Last but definitely not the least, probably our favourite Android N feature. With Android N you are able to switch between apps with a double tap of the multi- tasking button. It made it a lot easier to copy and paste something with no delay before you forget what you were about to do! Opening up the multi-tasking menu has been optimised with your most recent app being dragged all the way to the bottom of the screen, making it a more streamlined experience when you want to scroll through previous apps. Strangely jumping through different apps did not crash our 6P at all. Google seemed to have really worked out the kink before it unleashed this developer’s preview. Android N, Android Nougat or whatever it is going to call it, will be a welcomed upgrade.