Thurrott Daily: July 26

Thurrott Daily: July 26
Paris reflecting onto my Surface Book screen.

Tech tidbits from around the web.

7/26/2016 7:44:53 PM

NexDock has update, and first shipments will now happen in mid-August

Back in April, I took a look at the NexDock, which its makers bill as the world’s most affordable laptop. There are a ton of neat things you can do with, but what I was most interested in is its ability to transform a Continuum-compatible Windows phone (like the Lumia 950) into a computer. So I backed the Indiegogo campaign and was excited to see it was soon fully-backed, meaning that they’d be able to ship the product to paying customers like me.

Then this happened (in June): a factory fire destroyed or damaged their entire first production run, so customers would need to wait three more months for their purchases to arrive.

Today, I received an email update:

After having checked all boxes one by one, our ODM concluded that none of the units that sustained the fire are in a condition that can be restored to pass the odor and color tests. Therefore, you will all receive newly manufactured NexDocks.

One of the main reasons of why (re)manufacturing of NexDocks takes 45 days is the lead time of LCD screens – it’s rather long due to manufacturing being backed up. There’s a bit of good news though: Since there were around 900 LCD screens that have not been affected by the fire, our ODM will be able to expedite 900 NexDocks, which are now expected to be shipped by mid-August.

The rest of the units are still due to be shipped at the end of August as we previously reported.

Fingers crossed. I wasn’t among the first to back this project, so I’m guessing I won’t see mine until September.

Cortana for iOS updated with support for photo reminders

No, Cortana will never work as well on iPhone as it does on Android or Windows phone. But that doesn’t mean it can’t keep getting better. WinBeta reports on an important new update:

Today, Microsoft pushed an update to their iOS Cortana app that brings that platform’s version a little closer to the competition.

OK, they don’t have that much to say. But if you look at the app on the Apple App Store, Microsoft lists the following changes:

  • Now you can add a photo to a reminder. Try “Hey Cortana, remind me to pick this up at the store” and add your photo.
  • Cortana can remember what you tell her and recall it on demand, across all your devices.


Microsoft provides another peek at Halo Wars 2

Microsoft has released a new video describing the story and characters in the upcoming game Halo Wars 2. Worth watching if you’re a Halo fan.

Join 343 Industries for a glimpse into the task of bringing beloved heroes back into the fold after three decades adrift in space. What new adventures await them in this new galaxy? What new allies and adversaries will they meet? Find out how it’s all coming together in this behind-the-scenes featurette for Halo Wars 2.

Google Maps gets a great update

Since we’re in Paris this week, I often open Google Maps on my PC (while in the apartment) or on the Nexus 6P (out in the world) to figure out what to do next. Today, I thought I was looking at Apple Maps, as it had gotten a really nice, and clean-looking new update. And sure enough, Google explains what it has done.

Today we’re making a few visual changes and additions to Google Maps on desktop, Android and iOS to help you better explore the world around you.

As part of this update, we’ve removed elements that aren’t absolutely required (like road outlines). The result is a cleaner look that makes it easier to see helpful and actionable information like traffic and transit. And we’ve improved the typography of street names, points of interest, transit stations, and more to make them more distinguishable from other things on the map, helping you navigate the world with fewer distractions.

The cleaner canvas also lets us show local information in entirely new ways. As you explore the new map, you’ll notice areas shaded in orange representing “areas of interest”—places where there’s a lot of activities and things to do.

The new Maps has a subtle color scheme to help you easily differentiate between man-made or natural features, and quickly identify places like hospitals, schools or highways.

Old Google Maps on the left, and the new version on the right.

This is a big update, and it’s really obvious if you’re familiar with Google Maps. Nicely done.

Back this kickstarter, get a great documentary about the development of the PlayStation

I’ve written a bit in the past about an excellent (but British-centric) Commodore Amiga documentary called From Bedrooms to Billions: The Amiga Years. And since then, I’ve also purchased a related documentary, simply called From Bedrooms to Billions, which documents the early years of the personal computer revolution (again, in England). Well, if you’re into this stuff—and I am, of course—you’ll want to know that they’re working on a third documentary, calledFrom Bedrooms to Billions: The PlayStation Revolution.

Yes, it will be Britain-centric, which is a shame, as so much of the story of this (and the other products they’ve covered) happened elsewhere. But this still looks interesting. And there’s a twist: The Kickstarter is already fully-funded, so the documentary is happening. But if they’re able to reach their stretch goal of £60,000—just £10,000 over the funding target of £50,000—they add another 30 minutes of runtime to the video (which is currently slated to come in at 90 minutes).

Point being, if you care about this topic, and don’t mind a bit of England-centricity, you may want to fund it.

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