AOL Instant Messenger to shut down in December after 20 years

For many years, AOL Instant Messenger was one of the last real reminders of how sweeping AOL’s presence was in the 1990s. As recently as last year, it wasn’t uncommon for me to find editors using it as a means of real-time communication with freelancers when Slack wasn’t an option.

Today, though, the team at Oath announced on Tumblr that AIM will be shutting down on December 15 after an impressive 20-year run. Oath is the new company Verizon created to merge elements of AOL and Yahoo following its acquisition of both.

“AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed,” the announcement reads.

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The signs were already there, as AOL starting denying access from some third-party chat clients way back in February. At the time, an AOL employee who spoke with Ars Technica claimed usage had slipped into the “single digit millions.”

“In the years since, the frail network of old backend code was likely never rewritten and as people retired from the company or were forced out they had to let functionality go,” he continued.

Long before that, in 2012 The New York Times reported that AOL axed more than 40 jobs at its West Coast offices, with the AIM team being the hardest hit. This essentially ended any significant new development or updates beyond mere survival.

AIM, though, for years remained a somewhat comforting reminder of the way things used to be. The Tumblr announcement plays on that nostalgia, saying that ’90s kids “might also remember how characters throughout pop culture from You’ve Got Mail to Sex and the City used AIM to help navigate their relationships.”

End of an era.

      

Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8 smartphones can now run Windows 10 more easily

You can now run Windows 10 desktop on Samsung’s latest flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S8, the S8+ and the Note 8 far more easily than before.

While the service was available when the Galaxy S8 and its docking station, DeX, launched earlier this year, this time around Ingram Micro, the world’s largest distributor of technology products, has teamed up with Samsung and Amazon to deliver a simplified solution that allows Samsung DeX customers to access a full Windows Desktop from their mobile devices.

Ingram Micro Cloud’s solution automates the setup of Amazon WorkSpaces and Microsoft Windows Desktop as a Service (DaaS) for the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ and DeX prosumers so that they can set up and run a virtual desktop on their smartphones in just a few easy steps.

By using the Samsung DeX Station, Galaxy Note 8 and S8/S8+ users can connect to any type of display with an HDMI port and use a mouse and keyboard to obtain a full desktop experience right from their smartphone.

Surprising tie-up with AWS

It’s worth noting that Amazon Web Services rather than Microsoft’s very own Azure provides with that solution, another indication perhaps, that after the recent Cortana and Alexa, Amazon and Microsoft are warming up to each other despite their rivalry in cloud computing.

When Samsung Dex is combined with Amazon Workspaces, users can have access to a full desktop experience complete with their own Microsoft Windows virtual desktop that allows them to use all of their files and applications.

This is the first mobile device-based Windows cloud DaaS being offered directly to Samsung DeX customers and now students, freelancers and entrepreneurs can access a full Windows-based desktop directly from their Samsung DeX station and smartphones.

A 30-day free trial of Amazon Workspaces will be available to all Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S8/S8+ users in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Netherlands, New Zealand, the US and the UK so that they can try it out for themselves.

The offer can only be accessed through the Windows Desktop Free Trial DeX App on the Samsung Galaxy App Store.

      

iOS 12: what we want to see

iOS 11 is full of big changes for iPads and smaller changes for iPhones, but it’s not going to be the last software update we see from Apple.

There’s no doubt that iOS 12 will arrive in 2018, and with it likely a whole heap of changes, improvements and new features.

But what exactly will those changes and features include? Little is known yet, but we’ve come up with a wish list of what we want from it – and as more rumors and facts come in, this will be the place to learn about all of them.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? The next version of Apple’s mobile OS
  • When is it out? Probably around September 2018
  • How much will it cost? Nothing!

iOS 12 release date

Based on past form we’ll probably get our first official look at iOS 12 at WWDC 2018, which is likely to happen in June.

A developer beta version of the operating system will likely be launched there, followed by a public beta, but the final, polished release probably won’t land until around the same time as the iPhone 9 – or whatever Apple calls its next phone – which will likely launch in or around September 2018.

That’s when iOS 12 will probably be pushed to all compatible devices. And it will arrive as a free update to all iPhones and iPads built in the last few years.

iOS 12 news and rumors

So far we don’t know anything at all about iOS 12, but now that iOS 11 has arrived we’re sure to start hearing things soon and we’ll keep this page updated with every reputable rumor.

These usually come from developers getting early looks at the software to release fancy new apps that take advantage of the new capabilities, so there are multiple ways for info to make its way onto the web.

What we want to see

While nothing is known about iOS 12 yet we have a clear idea of some of the things we want to see, such as the following.

1. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth toggles that work properly

Control Center has been improved for iOS 11, but one thing we’re not such fans of is the fact that you can’t actually turn off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth from it.

Tap either toggle and your device will disconnect from Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth accessories, but won’t actually turn off their radios.

There are good reasons for this, as it ensures accessories like the Apple Pencil and Apple Watch 3 will continue to work, as well as features such as AirDrop and AirPlay, but there are also plenty of reasons you might want to fully disable them.

Currently to do that you have to head to the main Settings screen, so in iOS 12 we’d like there to at least be an option to have proper ‘off’ toggles in Control Center – perhaps with a harder 3D Touch?

2. Wish list returned to the App Store

The App Store has been overhauled as part of iOS 11, and for the most part it’s for the better, but one feature has been killed off in the process, namely wish lists.

Previously, if you saw an app or game you liked the look of but didn’t want to buy it then and there (perhaps because the price was high or you were using cellular data) you could add it to your wish list so you wouldn’t forget about it.

You can’t do that anymore, and nor can you see your old wish list, so good luck remembering anything you’ve added. It was a handy feature and we’d like to see it – along with everything we added to it – returned in iOS 12.

3. Camera controls in the camera app

People often talk about how intuitive iOS is, and for the most part they’re right, but there are some aspects which really aren’t – namely the camera controls, or rather their location.

If you’ve not used iOS before you’d expect to find them in the camera app, but some, including video resolution, file formats and whether or not to show a grid, are instead on a sub menu of the main Settings screen, meaning you have to actually leave the camera app and make several additional taps to change them.

It also means that some users may not even know they exist, especially since some controls are housed in the app, so you might reasonably assume that they all are. We really want to see this changed for iOS 12.

4. A movable back button

When moving around apps in iOS you’ll often want to go back to a previous screen, and as there’s no hardware back button you instead have to tap a tiny option in the top left corner of the display.

This isn’t ideal if you’re right handed, as it can be a bit of a stretch when using a larger device such as an iPhone 8 Plus, so we’d like to see its position become customizable in iOS 12.

5. More powerful Files

Files promised to be a file explorer and manager for iOS, bringing it closer to a desktop experience, or at least to Android levels of control. But in reality, the first time you open Files you probably won’t see much of anything.

You can connect cloud drives to it, but anything locally stored won’t be visible unless you manually save it to Files. It makes the app a bit confusing and clunky and means you never have a true view of your system’s files and folders.

For iOS 12 we’d like to see it turned into a proper file manager.

6. More Control Center customization

With iOS 11 Apple has let you pick what you see in Control Center, but its selection isn’t comprehensive.

We’d love the power to add any setting or app shortcut we want, and also to remove the likes of music controls and screen mirroring, which currently you can’t.

7. System-wide autofill

Password managers are a fast, secure way to log into your various apps and accounts. Or, they’re secure anyway, and on most devices they’re fast, but not always on iOS.

That’s because for a password manager to autofill the login fields of an app, the app’s developer has to have manually enabled it, which few have.

Apple has somewhat improved things by adding a ‘Password Autofill For Apps’ feature to iOS 11, which does exactly what the name suggests, but only for passwords you’ve stored with Apple.

Apps still can’t tap into your favorite password manager automatically, so the first time you log in to them you’ll have to either type out your username and password manually or copy and paste.

On a computer or Android phone the password manager experience is seamless. On iOS it’s anything but, so we want this fixed for iOS 12.

      

Bank of America chooses the Microsoft Cloud to support digital transformation

REDMOND, Wash. — Oct. 2, 2017 — As part of its digital transformation, Bank of America is turning to the Microsoft Cloud to help deliver new business efficiencies, support digital culture change and better meet customer needs. “Technology is increasingly providing a competitive advantage to financial services firms looking to thrive in the digital economy,” […ellipsis]

The post Bank of America chooses the Microsoft Cloud to support digital transformation appeared first on News Center.

      

The best free stock video sites 2017

A few well-placed snippets of high quality footage can really bring projects to life – whether they’re presentations, websites or your own home-made videos.

Finding the right video clips can be tricky, though. Many stock video sites charge a subscription fee for their best content. Thankfully, there are also places where you can download high quality video clips completely free of charge for both personal and commercial use, with no royalties or strings attached.

We’ve put the best free stock photo sites under the microscope and picked those that offer the best combination of video quality, variety of clips, and flexible licensing.

It’s worth bearing in mind that even if a video clip is in the public domain, you shouldn’t use it to create that shows identifiable people in a bad light.

There are some truly spectacular videos available on Pexels – all under a Creative Commons 0 (ie public domain) license, which means you’re free to use them for any personal or commercial projects without attribution.

The time-lapse videos are particularly lovely, and there are plenty of fun clips from GoPro-wearing divers and climbers. Pexels also include a handy ‘mockup’ category for footage of mobile devices with green screens that can be easily replaced via chroma keying.

Search results include premium videos from Shutterstock, but unlike most stock video sites, Pexels displays these at the bottom so you’re unlikely to mistake them for free clips.

Videos are provided in MP4 format in HD. The only drawback is the lack of clips in 4K, but if Full HD is enough for your project, Pexels should be your first stop.

If you need stock photos, Pexels also offers a great selection of stylish premium-quality stills under the same license.

Pexels

Stock Footage for Free feels like the video equivalent of free stock photo site Unsplash, focusing on quality rather than quantity. The footage is extremely impressive; we particularly like the selection of landscapes and looping backgrounds.

You’re given a detailed description of the video so you can be sure it’s the right one before downloading it. This is a sensible decision; downloads can take a while because of the large file sizes. The site’s HD videos are provided in MOV format, but there aren’t currently any 4K clips available.

Video clips are free for personal and commercial use, unless it’s a seriously high-budget production. Stock Footage for Free provides a detailed license agreement that makes explicit all the intellectual property information you’re likely to need.

Before you can download files you’ll need to sign up for a free account or log in using Facebook. At the time of writing, an error meant that we were unable to log in using an email address, though the Facebook option worked fine. We’ve reached out to the company to find out if this is an issue that can be resolved.

Stock Footage for Free

Pixabay is best known as a resource for free stock photos, but is also has a great selection of video clips available to download and use, no strings attached.

The videos are all submitted by Pixabay’s community of users, and are generally under a minute in length. The site is a good option for abstract images like clouds, as well as somewhat niche clips (the video of a man preparing pieces of beef is a particularly odd example).

There’s a small selection of 4K video too, motion graphics, and some infinitely looping clips that are handy for websites.

All clips are provided free for personal or commercial use, with no attribution necessary. The files are provided in MP4 format, in a choice of resolutions.

Pixabay

Footage from Videezy is royalty free for personal and commercial use, but users are asked to credit ‘Videezy.com’ in their projects.

Most videos are provided in HD resolution, but there’s also a good selection of 4K clips – mostly landscape scenes and abstract clips rendered using Adobe After Effects.

The quality is mixed, but generally high. We particularly like the selection of aerial drone footage

All videos are supplied in MP4 format, and you can see the resolution below the preview on the download page.

Keep an eye out for search results marked with a gold star; these are premium clips only available with an iStock subscription. The first two rows of search results are sponsored videos from Shutterstock, which again require a paid membership to download.

Videezy

Videvo offers thousands of videos contributed by its community of users. Quality is variable (a few clips have clearly been shot without a tripod) but they’re generally good, and there’s a huge selection to choose from so it’s highly likely you’ll find something suitable – even if it takes a little while.

If you’d like to contribute your own videos for others to download, you can do so after signing up for a free account.

Videos on Videvo fall under one of three licenses, so be sure to check which one applies to your chosen clip before you start working:

Videvo Standard License, which lets you use the clips in your own work without attribution, provided you don’t redistribute the footage.

Videvo Attribution License, which is the same as the Standard License, but requires you to credit the clip’s creator.

Creative Commons 3.0 Unported, which lets you share and adapt the clip, but requires you to credit the creator and indicate if you’ve made any changes.

Clips marked ‘Editorial use only’ can’t be used commercially, but those labelled ‘All projects and media’ can.

As with many free stock video sites, the top row of search results are actually premium samples from an advertiser (in this case Shutterstock). Scroll past these for Videovo’s own clips.

Some clips are provided as MP4 files, while others are delivered in QuickTime format. There’s a small selection of 4K clips, but half of these are Christmas-themed motion graphics. If you’re specifically looking for 4K video, you’re better off looking at one of the sites listed above.

Videvo

      

The next Dell XPS 13 gets teased way ahead of CES 2018

Dell gave TechRadar an early preview of the next XPS 13 during a tour of its Round Rock, Texas headquarters.

It’s clear the electronics firm’s latest 13-inch Ultrabook has taken design cues from the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. Gone are the full-size USB 3.0 ports in exchange for three USB-C ports. Sadly, this has also meant the SD card reader has been switched out for a Micro SD card slot.

Dell also introduced the updated Dell XPS 13 with a new Alpine White and Rose Gold color. The palm rest is made of a new woven glass fiber material that feels. Similar to carbon fiber material involves weaving a crystalline medium and a clear resin that give it a soft but firm structure.

Dell explained it had to develop the new material because it couldn’t produce an authentically white carbon fiber and it was unsatisfied with just giving it a coat of white paint.

Otherwise, Dell is keeping its lips sealed on more details about the new Dell XPS 13, but you can expect to hear much more about it at CES 2018.

      

Microsoft Edge browser and Microsoft Launcher now available for Android, iOS

Software giant Microsoft today announced the launch of two new apps for Android and iOS. The Redmond based company is bringing the Microsoft Edge browser to Android and iOS, while the Microsoft Launcher is currently headed to Android in beta.

Over the last few months, Microsoft has been moving ahead with its aim to make its products be as accessible as possible across platforms. Boosting its cross-platform strategy today, the company announced two new apps with Microsoft branding – its new Edge browser for Android and iOS, and an overhauled version of its existing Arrow Launcher.

Microsoft Edge for Android and iOS

Fans of Microsoft Edge browser on Windows 10 have been wishing for an Android and iOS version of the browser with syncing capabilities. Today, the company answered their wishes, albeit with a couple of riders. For starters, Microsoft Edge for Android is based on Chromium on Android and Webkit on iOS. On iOS, Microsoft has no other option but to use Webkit, its decision to fork Chromium for its Android version could seem like a lost opportunity to some users.

The second and more important rider for Edge fans is the fact that the Android version requires users to sign up as Windows Insiders and run preview versions of upcoming Windows 10 Fall Creators update. Given the nature of preview releases (often buggy, can be crashy too), not many users may be interested in installing them on their computers to use Edge Preview on Android.

Other than the two caveats, the Edge browser for Android and iOS doesn’t seem to support extensions just yet. It does support Microsoft Account for syncing your favorites and reading list, with synced tabs and history sync being worked on for future releases.

Microsoft Launcher for Android

Microsoft Launcher for Android is the second app to be announced today. Still in preview stages, it seems to be an overhauled version of the company’s old Arrow Launcher. For now, Microsoft Launcher is a rebranded version of Arrow Launcher, but new features and changes could be added down the line.

The new Microsoft Launcher comes with features like contact pinning, viewing appointments, recently viewed documents, frequently used apps and more.

An interesting feature that the new Edge and Launcher apps come with is “Continue on PC”, allowing users to move easily between their PCs and smartphones. In the upcoming Windows 10 Fall Creators update, Microsoft will allow you to pair your Android and iOS devices to your Windows 10 PC. Presently, the company is testing this feature in its Windows Insider previews with plans to expand this feature to more complex scenarios like syncing an email you’re editing. Microsoft Edge browser for Android and iOS is available for testing – you can sign up here.

Microsoft Launcher for Android is also available as part of a beta – you can sign up to test the launcher here.

      

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