Thurrott Daily: September 10

Posted on September 10, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile, Office, Office 365, Xbox One with 0 Comments

Thurrott Daily: September 10

Tech tidbits from around the web.

9/10/2016 6:15:34 PM

Microsoft’s ninth major, free update for Halo 5: Guardians on Xbox One brings Forge to Windows 10 too

This week, Microsoft released a massive drop of free new Halo 5content, and this time, some of it is for Windows 10 as well as Xbox One.

Since the release of Halo 5: Guardians last year, the team here at 343 Industries has continued to provide free content updates, expanding the experiences available to players within the community and supporting the game post-launch.

Today, we are releasing Anvil’s Legacy, which is our ninth major, free update for Halo 5: Guardians on Xbox One. In it, we are releasing two new maps, the Content Browser, and a bunch of new REQ content, but perhaps the biggest news relates to Forge.

Along with Anvil’s Legacy, we are finally bringing the Forge toolset to Windows 10 PCs with the release of Halo 5: Forge. The precision, speed and control available on PC using keyboard and mouse will make it easier than ever for creators to bring their Halo vision to life. All content created with Halo 5: Forge on Win10 PC will be shared with the Xbox One community and vice versa. Creators will be able to build, shape and play their content on either platform through their file share.

So I haven’t been a serious Halo player since Halo 3, and as I recall I actually completed that game’s single player campaign at least twice. But really, I’ve been full-blown COD since the Xbox 360 shipped withCall of Duty 2 as a launch title. I just haven’t looked back.

But … this level of support is pretty impressive. And aside from the obvious (and totally legit) complaints about Microsoft ignoring Halo on Windows, I hope Halo fans are appreciative of this stuff. Between the Master Chief Collection, Halo 5, and all this free bonus content, Xbox One has turned out to be a first-class Halo platform. That’s really cool.

The first ever Office Insider Fast ring build has been released

A few weeks back, I noted that Microsoft had announced a new level to the Office Insider program called Office Insider Fast in order to provide testers with even more frequent new builds of Office. This past week, Microsoft delivered its first Office Fast ring build, for Office 2016 on Windows:

Since the launch of Office Insider last November, more than one million Insiders have used pre-release builds of Office across platforms and provided more than 100,000 pieces of feedback. You are instrumental in helping us improve the Office 2016 experience for millions of people around the world.

That post also explains how to sign-on with Office Fast.

Microsoft updates OneNote for Android with new features

And speaking of Office updates, OneNote for Android just picked up a nice one … including, finally, the ability to open password-protected sections. Here’s what’s new.

Ability to open password-protected sections

Record notes on-the-go with OneNote’s support for audio recording

Support for auto-correct enabled for Google keyboard

Support for inserting and viewing embedded files

You can grab OneNote for Android from the Google Play Store.

Google highlights security improvements in Android 7.0 Nougat

I assume some people would have an aneurysm if I published a third Android article today, but this is certainly of interest too: Security enhancements in Nougat

Now that Nougat has begun to roll out, we wanted to recap the [security] updates [it includes] in a single overview and highlight a few new improvements.

Direct Boot and encryption. With Android 7.0 Nougat, we’ve updated the underlying encryption scheme and streamlined the boot process to speed up rebooting your phone. Now your phone’s main features, like the phone app and your alarm clock, are ready right away before you even type your PIN, so people can call you and your alarm clock can wake you up. We call this feature Direct Boot.

The media stack and platform hardening In Android Nougat, we’ve both hardened and re-architected mediaserver, one of the main system services that processes untrusted input.

App security improvements. Android Nougat is the safest and easiest version of Android for application developers to use. Apps that want to share data with other apps now must explicitly opt-in by offering their files through a Content Provider … We’ve also continued to refine app permissions and capabilities to protect you from potentially harmful apps.

System Updates. We’ve made significant enhancements to the OTA update system to keep your device up-to-date much more easily with the latest system software and security patches. We’ve made the install time for OTAs faster, and the OTA size smaller for security updates. You no longer have to wait for the optimizing apps step, which was one of the slowest parts of the update process, because the new JIT compiler has been optimized to make installs and updates lightning fast. The update experience is even faster for new Android devices running Nougat with updated firmware. Like they do with Chromebooks, updates are applied in the background while the device continues to run normally. These updates are applied to a different system partition, and when you reboot, it will seamlessly switch to that new partition running the new system software version.


New Amazon Fire HD tablets

I’m not sure what to make of this one: I bought the previous generation Amazon Fire HD 8 and was surprised by how terrible it is. But the New York Times says a refresh, which adds Alex support, may be just the ticket.

Amazon is coming out with a new model of the [Fire HD] that takes the company’s single-minded obsession with offering the lowest practical price to new extremes.

The latest Amazon tablet is the Fire HD 8, a new model of the company’s 8-inch touch-screen device.

The entry-level Fire HD 8 has 50 percent more RAM for loading apps more quickly, longer battery life and 16 gigabytes of storage, double that of the previous model and equal to Apple’s 8-inch iPads. Amazon also plans to announce that it is making its Alexa digital assistant available on all of its tablets.

The most remarkable thing about the device is the price, which, at $89.99, represents a 40 percent drop from the previous 8-inch Fire’s price of $149.99. More striking is the contrast to Apple’s 8-inch iPads, which start at $399 for the latest generation and $269 for an earlier model.

Well, I will say this. It can only be better than the previous version. Anyone own one of these things?

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