Archive for the ‘General Technology’ Category

5 Bold Moves Microsoft is Making with Internet Explorer 10

In May 2012, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer lost its long-reigning position at the top of the browser usage charts to Google Chrome. While no longer the world’s most-used browser, IE is not content to stay in second place for long. With IE 10 this Fall, Microsoft is making bold moves to stay relevant in the fast-moving “browser wars”. Here are 5 big changes in IE 10 that are sure to make an impact:

1. Speed and Performance

When it comes to web browsers, speed and compatibility are of utmost importance. With improved HTML5 functionality and a sped up Javascript engine (a new iteration of IE 9’s “Chakra” Jscript engine), IE 10 is Microsoft’s fastest browser yet. Preview releases of IE 10 have already impressed reviewers with Javascript speeds on the Metro version, optimized for Windows 8 on tablets.

2. Web App Focus

Microsoft is betting big on the future of web applications, particularly those using HTML5. IE 10 is incorporating major updates to its HTML5 functionality, allowing video with links to specific times and embedded captions. With these updates, advanced web applications can be optimized for IE 10, allowing for complex browser games and applications, like Office 365, to run smoother than ever. Web developers and designers can take advantage of this improved horsepower with more robust sites.

Internet Explorer 10 Bubble Test

Internet Explorer 10 flexes its muscles with high performance benchmarks.

3. Touch-first

Announced last month, the Microsoft Surface tablet demonstrated the company’s commitment to mobile browsing. The new hardware, along with Windows 8’s “touch-first” design standard, means IE 10 is built from the ground up around touch screen interaction. With a rapidly growing smartphone and tablet market, Microsoft saw the need for a browser that is truly mobile. Fluid design and a tile-based interface for favorites and tabs are key components of the touch-first standard.

4. Windows 8

Microsoft is tying the fate of IE 10 closely with that of its new Windows 8 operating system also releasing this Fall. Finally shedding its older operating systems, IE 10 will not run on Windows XP or Vista. Even its support for Windows 7 is suspect, as recent preview builds have only been made available for the Windows 8 developer’s preview build. Microsoft is completely changing their model by charging only $40 for their latest OS upgrade.

5. Do Not Track

Perhaps most controversial is Microsoft’s decision to enable their “Do Not Track” setting by default in IE 10. This represents a strong stance in favor of consumer privacy from Microsoft. However, it has certainly angered online advertisers who rely on tracking technology to deliver targeted ads. The effects of this change are still unknown, as some critics believe the do not track setting won’t even help consumers protect their privacy. Regardless of the outcome, Microsoft aims to be on the forefront of evolving web standards.

 

With these significant upgrades to their browser, Microsoft is making a major push to get back on top of the browser usage charts. But will it pay off? We’ll find out when IE 10 and Windows 8 launch this Fall. For up to date web applications and technology information follow @Unidev on Twitter.

 

Google Brings New Mobile Opportunities for Developers and Users

Late last month Google I/O 2012, the company’s annual developer conference, streamed out live to over 3.5 million people in over 170 countries. Since its inception in 2008, I/O (short for input/output and “Innovation in the Open”)  the place to hear the latest announcements and innovations on Google’s platforms, including Android, Chrome, Chrome OS, and many others.

This year’s conference brought many significant announcements for the mobile space, promising new experiences to users and new opportunities for mobile developers. Google stands strong in their 2012 mobile strategy with  announcements of a new tablet, mobile OS and many other mobile browser and app updates.
Of course, the most notable announcement from Google was their first foray into the tablet market, the Nexus 7. At $199 and with a 7-inch display, Google’s new tablet should be a fierce competitor with the Amazon Kindle Fire, an already popular Android tablet released at the same price point late last year. With full integration to Google Play, developers maintain an easily visible means to deliver now apps, games, and other content to users.

 

google mobile tablet nexus 7

Google’s tablet runs fast with a quad-core Tegra 3 processor.

Photo by Google

The new Nexus 7 also ships with a distinct advantage in the tablet market, as the first device to ship with Google’s latest version of their mobile OS, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.  Developers can interface with the new features of Jelly Bean, such as improved camera functionality, voice search, and customizable widgets. For the users, this update is the fastest Android UI yet.

Google also expanded its mobile software and application offerings during I/O 2012. One significant announcement was the release of Chrome for iOS, allowing iPhone and iPad users to utilize Google’s web browser on the go. Users can sync tabs using their desktop Chrome account, so it’s simple to transition from mobile to desktop browsing. Unfortunately, due to Apple’s restriction on apps mimicking default iOS apps (in this case Safari), Google Chrome can’t make full use of the iOS Javascript engine. This makes Chrome for iOS slightly slower than the default Safari application.

Google also announced Chrome for Android devices moving out of beta and introduced a Google+ app for the iPad and Android tablets. Overall, at this year’s I/O Google continued to engage users by expanding its mobile product and software base. Likewise, mobile developers will certainly be busy designing around Google’s new OS and hardware specification.

For the latest on mobile technology, software development and other happenings in tech, follow @Unidev on Twitter.

 

WWDC 2012 Report: What’s Up with Apple?

WWDC BuildingIt’s been 3 extremely informative days at WWDC 2012. Apple is taking steps to solidify their platforms for consumers across the board.  The product they launched at this year’s conference is a new MacBook pro with the enhanced Retina Display.  I’ve seen this first hand and all I can say is WOW.  You can watch a 1080DPI video in the corner of the screen leaving a million pixels available.  This will revolutionize the graphics and video industries.  In addition to the video, the hardware is equally exceptional.  Having the state of the art Intel quad core processor, the new MacBook is a powerhouse.  Add the capability to 16GB of RAM, and this will be the work horse of the future for mobile power users.

Although the MacBook Pro Retina Display is impressive, it wasn’t the only thing Apple announced.  The new IOS 6 is going to be a game changer.  This version will have a brand new state-of-the-art mapping app which will sever the ties with Google once and for all.  In addition to this, there are over 200 new features with some being updates to the phone app, updates to Siri, and many more.  One new app they announced is PassBook.  This app will allow you to consolidate all your loyalty rewards cards, airline tickets, and just about anything with a barcode.  This is a smart app which will automatically bring a card to front and notify you when you arrive at the store’s location.  For example, let’s say you have a Starbucks rewards card and you walk into a store.  You will no longer have to fumble through your apps to find theirs to pull up your card.  PassBook will know you are in Starbucks and will display the Starbucks rewards card on your phone.  This app alone will change the way things are done on the POS and Loyalty Rewards front.

Finally, they demo’ed their new OS for Mac, OSX Mountain Lion.  This OS takes many leaps forward to integrate your IOS devices/data.   This update has over 200 new features with many of them being iCloud based.  When you make a change in a document in the cloud on your iPad, that change will appear real time on your Mac and other IOS devices.

It’s been a great week so far here at WWDC and an invaluable experience.  I look forward to the rest of the week and for the releases of IOS 6 and Mac OSX Mountain Lion.

 

Why Hospitality is One of the Biggest Hi-Tech Industries

Technology is taking over in the hospitality industry. Resorts and hotels provide their guests with interactive resources literally at the tip of Hospitalitytheir fingers. Instead of guests making multiple calls to the front desk to find their way around a resort, they now use portable devices to make their stay even more enjoyable.

 

Revel, a resort in Atlantic City, recently implemented the use of innovative tablets to engage their visitors. Revel has implemented an interactive guest-service solution designed by a collaborative team of technology partners, Suitelinq and Unidev. The Cisco-created hardware and the integrated software package device allows guests to easily access extensive amounts of information. Visitors can check the weather, order room service, view promotions, track flights and more. The tablet also acts as the room phone and alarm clock. You can attach the tablet to the phone and make a call or remove it from the phone dock and call through a speaker phone.

 

Along with the convenience, interactive menus such as the one used at Revel allow for metrics of data. If the hotels or resorts would like to track the times and frequency people are ordering food or scheduling a massage, they can do so quickly and efficiently using a digital platform. Another example of this advancement is mobile apps. Mobile apps stored on the tablet allow guests to access additional information regarding the hotel properties.

 

Revel is not the only hospitality venue integrating technology changes. The Hilton chain increased its customer satisfaction by implementing Hilton Design Studio. The Hilton Design Studio guides online users through the hotel and gives them the opportunity to ‘design a guest room’. The Hilton will also be adding interactive products for the valet and a connectivity station. Another example of technology arriving in hospitality is Hyatt Hotels enhancing its rooms with interactive televisions. Through the TV, guests can not only decide on entertainment choices, but ordering room service, searching local information and file downloads will also be available.

Technology is growing rapidly in hotels and other resorts because of the competition. With more of the popular hospitality establishments growing digitally, they create a pressure in the market for other providers to keep up. This generates a need for companies like Suitelinq and Unidev to design unique digital solutions.

 

With new technology, hotels can dramatically improve and innovate upon the “guest experience”. Employees can better manage their time using a digital solution rather than taking phone calls. Technology implementation in the hospitality industry is continuing to grow and is bringing new solutions to workers and travelers everywhere.

 

For more information on Unidev and how we can enrich your technology, contact us.

 

 

TXCHANGE Recap: Big Data with Splunk

Big Data is everywhere. As technology advances and becomes more integrated with our lives, data is being generated at an incredible rate. At our March TXCHANGE event with Splunk, we found some interesting ways big data is monitored and how companies gain operational intelligence from an endless sea of data points. Below are a few takeaways from last week’s event.

Watch Full Video of the Splunk Demonstration Here

Splunk in St. Louis

Denny Webb, Unidev's Splunk-certified developer, explains his social media Splunk app.

Big Data gives you the whole story

John Herzog and David Maislin, our presenters from Splunk, demonstrated the value of pulling data from information “silos” found in traditional IT architecture. Important interactions happen across many different servers, so it can be difficult to get a clear picture on a specific user session. Splunk takes a “slice” of data across all silos to create a complete time-ordered description of a session. This allows administrators to identify and address issues very quickly, increasing resolution speed by up to 90%.

Big Data is getting bigger

Many organizations are struggling to make use of the vast amounts of data being generated by web servers, databases, transaction terminals and mobile devices. However, as the devices in our lives become more integrated into other networks, there will be more and more data sources to mine from. To highlight the variety of data we’ll generate moving forward, John even mentioned a “smart refrigerator” that could push its data to a network. Splunk engineers realized this future is coming all too soon; the Splunk tool is compatible with any “machine data”, allowing data analysis across all types of devices.

Big Data isn’t just for the tech team

Decision makers need as much data as possible to take informed and timely action. However, data can be so complex and overwhelming that only experienced technical developers or engineers can read it. Thankfully, Splunk allows developers to customize high-level dashboards based on the ingested data. With Big Data only growing in importance in the coming years, its essential for organizations to make use of this “operational intelligence” from top to bottom.

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