Thurrott Daily: December 8

Posted on December 8, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Android, iOS, Microsoft Surface, Microsoft-Band, Mobile, Xbox with 0

Thurrott Daily: December 8

Good morning. Lots going on today.

12/8/2015 10:57:33 AM

Major Surface fail on Monday Night Football

I stayed up past midnight last night watching Monday Night Football like a jerk—to be fair, the end of the game was amazing—but the big drama happened on the sidelines: The Surface Pro tablets Microsoft is so furiously touting “stopped working,” triggering a major crisis for the Dallas Cowboys. From SB Nation:

The Cowboys’ communication service to their Microsoft surface tablets wasn’t working properly. With their primary source of playbook information temporarily down, they used the next best thing and relied on printed versions of their playbook … But even the printers weren’t working correctly for the visiting Cowboys.

As a rule, the team cannot use its sideline devices if its opponents have technical issues [so] Washington [could not] access its devices, either, even though they [were] still functional.

OK, so it wasn’t a “Surface” fail per se. But I’ll say this: I bet the idiot NFL announcers we’re stuck with had no problem identifying “Surface” during this crisis, even though they keep calling them “iPads” when they’re actually working.

Microsoft explains how Band 2 estimates VO2 Max measurement

As I noted in my review, Band 2 is a data collecting monster thanks to its 11 sensors and machine learning-backed cloud services. But among the data Band 2 collects is something called VO2 Max, which, as it turns out, is very hard to measure normally. So Microsoft has explained how Band 2 does it.

Anyone who’s ever had their VO2 max tested in a traditional lab setting can tell you that it’s not the most pleasurable experience. Not only is it expensive, it requires a technician, some fancy equipment, and a mask over your nose and mouth to capture your air exchange while running at your maximum effort.

What is it? VO2 max represents the maximum amount of oxygen (O2) you can consume and utilize during exercise at maximum effort, and is widely accepted as the gold standard for classifying your cardiovascular fitness level … the higher your VO2 max, the higher your cardiovascular fitness.

Microsoft Band can estimate this value using your biometric data, speed, and heart rate each time you go for a run, whether it’s outside or in the gym.

To estimate your V02 max without measuring the actual exchange of air inhaled and exhaled during exercise, the key inputs necessary include your biometric information (height, weight, age, gender), running speed, and heart rate, which are evaluated when you use the Run Tile. Your band uses its built-in GPS to capture speed if it has been activated while running outdoors. If GPS is turned off, or if you’re running indoors, speed is evaluated using the accelerometer, measuring your stride length and rate, specific to your height. Your band’s continuous optical heart rate monitor keeps track of your heart rate.

The V02 max displayed in your dashboard is only an estimation, but you’d be surprised by its accuracy.

Very interesting. Unlike the runner highlighted in the post, whose VO2 Max is “Elite,” at 53, my own VO2 Max is a more pedestrian “High,” or 32. Suffice to say I don’t work out enough.

Apple releases a battery cover for its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S

And you can tell it’s SUPER IMPORTANT TECH NEWS because The Wall Street Journal actually reviewed it. Because, you know, it has an Apple logo on it and there’s nothing else to write about. Maybe they could write about this: The real price of an Apple iPhone 6S just went up by $100. No? No, I guess not.

As it turns out, this new case is not available for the iPhone 6S Plus or iPhone 6 Plus, because these bigger devices have ample battery already.

EA exec admits “Star Wars Battlefront” lacks depth

Well. This is a rather startling admission. But an EA executive said this week that the recently-released “Star Wars Battlefront” was designed to be “accessible” to new users and thus “lacks depth.”

“So, an 8-year-old could play with his father on the couch, as well as a teenager or 20-year-old could play the game and enjoy it. It is more accessible. And for the hardcore, it may not have the depth that they wanted in the game.”

Some people continue to express skepticism at my love of the Call of Duty games, and while I certainly hear arguments around the “same old, same old” nature of these games, one area in which they are quite complex is the progression system in multiplayer. In fact, it’s so complex, I think modern COD titles alienate new gamers.

EU to create new cybersecurity law

Reuters says that EU lawmakers and countries have agreed on a new cybersecurity law.

EU lawmakers and member states struck a deal on a new cybersecurity law on Monday that will for the first time force Internet firms such as Google and Amazon to report serious breaches or face sanctions, an EU source said … The deal came after five hours of negotiations between European Parliament and EU countries.

Google starts rolling out Android 6.0.1 to Nexus devices

If you own a Nexus phone, good news: You already have a software update on the way. This week, Google started rolling out Android 6.0.1 to its Nexus devices (and, I think, to Android One devices too).

A few notes here.

GottaBeMobile has a roundup of new features in 6.0.1:

The update to Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow appears to be a rather small one aimed at delivering a few small changes for tablets, likely some security improvements, performance enhancements, but most of all it’s changing emoji characters.

If you just can’t wait, you can download the 6.0.1 factory images directly from Google, but you’ll need to wipe out your phone to install it.

This page contains binary image files that allow you to restore your Nexus device’s original factory firmware.

And finally, it appears that this update has enabled band 12 LTE on T-Mobile for the Nexus 6P and 5X.

In case you’re not familiar with the kerfuffle over T-Mobile’s band 12 spectrum, the gist is that Tmo band 12 only runs voice calls over VoLTE. Since there are areas where T-Mobile’s only coverage is band 12, you need VoLTE certification to place any calls (even emergency ones). Because of this, T-Mobile is asking OEMs to kindly turn off band 12 until such time as they’ve had their devices certified on band 12/VoLTE. Not everyone has complied, but most established companies are playing ball. That includes Google.

“Android 6.0.1 adds a ton of new emoji, and we’ve got the full list”

That’s some hard-hitting reporting there.

Google Turns On Safe Browsing In Chrome For Android

Google announced that it is now enabling Safe Browsing in Chrome for Android by default.

Google Safe Browsing has been protecting well over a billion desktop users against malware, unwanted software, and social engineering sites on the web for years. Today, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve extended our protective umbrella to hundreds of millions of Chrome users on Android.

If you’re an Android user, you probably already have it! This new Safe Browsing client on Android is part of Google Play Services, starting with version 8.1. The first app to use it is Chrome, starting with version 46—we’re now protecting all Android Chrome users by default.

Will this make a big difference? If you accept that Android is the new Windows—and you should—then, sure. Android is a huge target for hackers, and just like on Windows, the browser is an obvious entry point.

Adobe lightroom is now free on both Android and iOS

It’s not like I’m looking for more reasons to ignore Windows phone, butthis kind of thing doesn’t help.

Adobe ditched the Creative Cloud requirement for Lightroom mobile on iOS back in October, and now it’s doing the same for Android. With an update to version 1.4 for the Android app, the photo-editing software is now free to use. This means that you’ll no longer need that desktop software subscription to use it.

Lightroom … allows you to edit those raw DNG files that the mobile OS captures. What’s more, Lightroom mobile offers handy tools, like the ability to copy and paste edits, to help streamline your workflow.


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