Tech tidbits from around the web.
3/26/2016 11:49:41 AM
New Office 2016 Insider Preview build is now available
Microsoft has released a new build of Office 2016 for Windows for folks on the Office Insider Program. Here’s what’s new in this release, according to Microsoft:
Power Query Enhancements. In Excel, Power Query lets you discover, combine, and refine data across a wide variety of sources, as well as search for public data from sources such as Wikipedia. In this release, we’ve enhanced the connectivity capabilities and also added new transformations.
Find Photos in a Flash. In OneDrive, you can use the Search Photos command to scan photo tags and metadata and also extract and find text in photos. Starting in this month’s update, the Search Photos feature can also recognize objects in a photo.
Easier Files and Folders Sharing. In OneDrive, we now offer you the two most popular options for sharing files up front: Get a link and Email.
Microsoft’s What’s New and Improved in Office 2016 for Office 365 is worth checking out too. Lots of good info there.
Microsoft launches Office 365 Connectors
Whether you are tracking a Twitter feed, managing a project with Trello or watching the latest news headlines with Bing—Office 365 Connectors surfaces all the information you care about in the Office 365 Groups shared inbox, so you can easily collaborate with others and interact with the updates as they happen.
Over 50 Office 365 Connectors are available today, spanning popular applications across productivity, news sources, HR systems, sales, project management, marketing automation, entertainment, eLearning, developer tools and many more. Some examples include MailChimp, Asana, GitHub, Stack Overflow, Aha, Zendesk, Salesforce, Twitter and UserVoice. We are also working with many other partners to enable additional connectors that will be made available soon.
To be clear, this is for the commercial versions of Office 365.
Audible launches an online magazine
Audible has launched an online magazine called Audible Range. Here’s the pitch.
Welcome to Audible Range, Audible’s new online magazine devoted to exploring the interplay between listening, voice, literature, and technology.
For the first time ever, we can carry in our pockets all the world’s stories, and it is profoundly changing the way we tell and listen to them. The mission of Audible Range is to explore this new territory using original reporting, personal recommendations and stories, interviews with authors and narrators, and much more.
To help us do this, we’ve assembled esteemed journalists, listeners, and luminaries, plus some of Audible’s most passionate users – its editors and staff. We’d love to hear from you, too.
I give it about 6 months. 🙂
Steam and Atari
People seem to be excited by the release of the Atari Vault on Steam but seriously, isn’t this like the 117th time we’ve been able to buy these games on the PC? Anyway.
Relive the Golden Age of Gaming with 100 of the most popular iconic games from the 70’s and 80’s. Now with online multiplayer capability, this extensive catalog includes classic Atari titles like Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command, and many more, paired with intuitive new controls designed to mimic what Atari fans remember from the glory days! The brand new additions of online and local multiplayer, along with Steam Leaderboards, allows you to challenge friends and compete with players from around the world like never before. And now with Steam Controller support, you’ll have unprecedented levels of precision control. Atari Vault is the ultimate collection of classic Atari titles, and is guaranteed to provide hours of fun!
Play 100 classic Atari 2600 and arcade games titles including Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command, Tempest, Warlords, and so much more.
The price of nostalgia is $19.99, though Atari Vault is currently on sale for $16.99.
Sony to bring PlayStation games to Android, iOS
Following in the slow-moving footsteps of Nintendo, Sony said this week that it would finally jump into mobile gaming this year. The plan is to bring PlayStation games to Android and iOS, starting in Asia. It’s unclear why these companies don’t just jump in with two feet, and when you look at Microsoft’s plans to expand Xbox with Windows, you can kind of see how this stuff is complementary: You gotta go where the users are.
[Sony’s] ForwardWorks will leverage the intellectual property of the numerous PlayStation dedicated software titles and its gaming characters as well as the knowledge and know-how of gaming development expertise which was acquired over the years with PlayStation business to provide gaming application optimized for smart devices including smartphones to users in Japan and Asia.
I assume if this works out, this will be the end of the Vita.
Apple Music gets a widget on Android
Today the Apple Music app was updated with a new widget that can be dropped onto your phone or tablet’s home screen. It’s pretty basic (most music app widgets are, to be fair), offering controls for pause, skip, and going back to the last track. There’s also a heart, so you can help influence Apple Music’s future picks based on your tastes.
So let’s see. Apple Music supports two features on Android that are not available in iOS: microSD storage and widgets. What’s next? Chromecast support?
Apple follows Netflix, others into original programming
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is expanding its TV efforts to include original programming, similar to what Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and other digital media service providers are doing.
Apple is expanding its efforts in original video programming, announcing its first show for its Apple TV box.
Apple said it is working with musical artist will.i.am and television executives Ben Silverman and Howard Owens on an unscripted program about apps. The company declined to provide other details such as when the shows will air or how people will view them.
Apple is also creating video programs for its subscription-music service. According to people familiar with the company’s plans, Apple is creating a six-episode series with hip-hop artist and Apple executive Dr. Dre exclusively for Apple Music, the company’s $10-a-month streaming music service. The show, “Vital Signs,” is expected to be based loosely on Dr. Dre’s rags-to-riches story.
None of this sounds particularly interesting to me. Hopefully, Apple’s TV programming doesn’t turn into the video version of Apple News, which is heavily weighted towards, wait for it, Apple news.
Streaming music followup
The other day I wrote about how streaming music revenues had become bigger than those for digital downloads and physical media. But there’s a dark side to the success of streaming: It’s doing nothing to change the fact that the music industry continues to decline. The NYT reports.
There is plenty of good news in the music industry’s latest sales report released this week. Streaming is up. Vinyl has continued its unlikely renaissance. And did we mention that streaming is up?
But a closer look shows that the big sales numbers that have sustained the recorded music business for years are way down, and it is hard to see how they could ever return to where they were even a decade ago.
CDs and downloads have been gradually abandoned as streaming has become the platform of choice.
The result is that the music industry finds itself fighting over pennies while waving goodbye to dollars. For instance, the growing but still specialized market for vinyl records is generating more revenue than the music on YouTube, one of the biggest destinations on the Internet, but that’s because YouTube pays royalties in the tiniest fractions of cents.
Blaming streaming for the declines is overly simple.
The goal of streaming is the same as radio before it: to introduce more people to new (and existing) music than was ever possible with purchase-based delivery methods. The music industry is shrinking because they moved too slowly to embrace market changes with digital, and because music, frankly, sucks worse than ever before. And this isn’t some “old guy” perspective: The 80’s music I grew up on is mostly horrible too, but there were decades of fantastic music—the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 90’s—that don’t follow some linear pattern. The music industry needs to stop pointing fingers and adapt to the times. Live music is as vibrant as ever, and if we can discover music via streaming and then see artists live, everyone wins.
iOS 9.3 upgrade is bricking some devices
See, it just works over there in Appleland. The recently-released iOS 9.3 upgrade is apparently bricking some devices. Apple has issued the following statement, blaming its customers for this problem.
“Updating some iOS devices (iPhone 5s and earlier and iPad Air and earlier) to iOS 9.3 can require entering the Apple ID and password used to set up the device in order to complete the software update. In some cases, if customers do not recall their password, their device will remain in an inactivated state until they can recover or reset their password. For these older devices, we have temporarily pulled back the update and will release an updated version of iOS 9.3 in the next few days that does not require this step.”
Apple recommends its If you can‘t activate your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch after installing iOS 9.3 support article if you’re stuck.