Microsoft Moves to New Markets with its Smartphone Update

Microsoft recently announced the release of its Windows Phone 8.1 update, which will include a number of new and improved features that will help the company expand to new markets, including China, United Kingdom, Canada, India and Australia.

One of the major features of the update is Cortana, Microsoft’s personal assistant software. A beta version of Cortana will be available to users in China and United Kingdom and an alpha version for Australia, Canada and India.

Several elements within the personal assistant will also be tailored according to each region. For instance, Cortana in China will support Mandarin. Other features that suit this new market, such as temperature change information, air quality, warnings on driving restrictions and information relating to celebrities are expected too.

Microsoft also said Cortana has been modified to support U.K. spellings and pronunciations.  It will also feature local information on sports, the London Stock Exchange, commuter conditions and other helpful features for this region.

On the global front, Windows Phone 8.1 will have a number of upgraded features to look forward to, including:

  • Live folders of live tiles – better customizations of home screens for the users
  • Better wearable support – the device will now support Bluetooth push notifications.
  • High-voltage charging – enables Windows Phone 8.1 to charge faster
  • Xbox Music App – updated to deliver better performance in areas like app loading and list scrolling

Do you think Microsoft’s smartphone will gain more recognition with some of these features? Comment below or let us know on Twitter.

Optimizing iOS 8 for the Enterprise

Apple made a major strategic shift into the enterprise space with a secure business container with iOS 7. But this was only phase one.

With iOS 8, Apple has expanded its MDM and productivity features, which will further meet the needs of the increasingly mobile workforce and its array of devices. To optimize the capabilities of iOS 8, companies need tools that enable both productivity and security in one package. But, what many will find are fragmented solutions that offer one or the other, making their integration and use complex and tedious for employees and admins alike. This is where Cortado and its solution, Cortado Corporate Server, come in.

Cortado Corporate Server provides the full enterprise mobility package. By optimizing iOS 8 with Cortado, enterprises will truly have ONE easy-to-use solution that enables them to be secure AND productive.

Check out the release here.

ABTA 2014: Monetizing New Pay-TV Services in Emerging Markets

The debate is over. Pay-TV will only survive if it can support new content distribution platforms and services, such as VOD, IPTV and OTT. This begs the question for service providers and broadcasters alike, how will they monetize these services?

That question is even more complex in emerging markets, such as Brazil, where the pay-TV industry is a booming one. Since 2006, the number of pay-TV subscribers in Brazil has grown on average 23.4 percent per year. Last year, despite the low GDP growth, the pay-TV market expanded more than 11 percent and the subscriber base reached 18 million homes, according to ABTA data.

The answer to this question will be a focus at the upcoming 2014 ABTA Conference & Expo, taking place in Sao Paulo, August 5-7. The three-day congress promises sessions and conversations that will foster the pay-TV industry, enabling it to find and deploy innovative and flexible business models that will help the industry monetize the new video services.

How can emerging markets, such as Brazil, best monetize these services?

The Ins and Outs of Amazon’s Unlimited Kindle Service

You’ve probably heard the news – Amazon recently introduced the Kindle Unlimited Service. What does it mean for its subscribers? In short, they get access to more than 600,000 e-books and thousands of audiobooks for $9.99 per month.

The service is a significant improvement to Amazon’s existing offering. Its current selection of e-books, Kindle Owners Lending Library, works only with Kindle devices and allows users to check one free book per month.  But, Kindle Unlimited Service gives users access to a large amount of unlimited e-books from the Kindle reading library that can be read on a Kindle, tablets with free Kindle reading apps, iOS and Android devices, and on Windows and Mac desktops and laptops.

According to Mashable, subscribers will have access to a broad selection of books and will not have a limit as to how long they can hold onto a book. Members will, though, be limited to holding 10 digital books at a time. In addition, Amazon said there would be no waiting list on Kindle Unlimited Service.

Are you planning to use Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited Service? Comment below or let us know on Twitter.

Bigger, Better and Faster: Setting the New Standard for Mobile File Management

There was a point where 2 GB of storage was more than enough. But not today.

There was also a time when people were OK with using a different app for each of their mobile needs (be it printing, file sharing, etc). But that just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Enterprise mobility management leader Cortado is in tune with the needs of today’s mobile users, consumer and business alike. The company today announces it is not only offering 5x’s more free storage (10GB), but is now offering a web version of its free productivity app Cortado Workplace. Cortado is the ONE solution for all productivity needs for users on the go, be it printing or file sharing, in addition to offering the security users need to assure their private documents stay private. Cortado is truly the “full package.”

Find the full details in the press release here.

A Simpler Approach for Smarter Cars

Manufacturing cars with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto software can be a complicated process that can take several years. But for now, Apple and Google have come up with a simpler and faster approach to implement their “smart” services.

Users of Apple CarPlay will be able to connect their phones to supported vehicles through a Lightning cable, which will enable them to view a version of iOS on their car screen. Siri, Apple’s automated voice system, will enable users to ask for directions, select music, make phone calls through the car’s audio system and text without having to look down at their devices.

At the recent Google I/O conference, Android Auto was introduced as one of the latest developments of Google. Android users can plug in their phones using a MicroUSB to connect the device to the car. Google Maps will continue to be the primary tool in giving directions.

To broaden their capabilities, both Android Auto and CarPlay are already approaching applications developers so other apps can be displayed in users’ cars as well. According to Naoki Sugimoto, Senior Program Director for Honda’s Silicon Valley Lab, configuring Android Auto in the manufacturing of a car could be much simpler, since it does not involve any special software.

Both Honda and Volvo have rumored plans to support both iOS and Android at the same time.

For now, the plug-in system will still provide users with amplitude of choices, including:

  • Control of the dashboard
  • Climate control
  • Bluetooth connectivity

Should Apple or Android hurry in designing a smart auto rather than the plug-in system? Comment below or let us know on Twitter.

Work Smart, Live Smart – In a Smart Home

As technology evolves, our world is becoming smarter and smarter. We have smartphones, smart cars, smart TVs, so why not a smart home?

Alex Hawkinson, CEO of the two-year-old smart home company SmartThings, recently gave a tour of his smart home, showing off its state-of-the-art technologies that make everyday tasks easier.

Hawkinson’s smart home has more than 150 connected devices. He wears a bracelet called the Jawbone UP fitness tracker, which monitors his movement and wirelessly relays information to his smartphone, which passes signals to the home-controlling software in the cloud.

When the house “knows” he’s awake, thermostats will automatically adjust the home’s temperature, the coffee pot will start brewing, and certain doors will unlock. Additionally, when the cabinet is opened to grab a cup for coffee, a voice sounding similar to iPhone’s Siri will say the day’s weather forecast.

What smart home feature do you think would be most useful? Comment below or share with us on Twitter.


How to Move 8K Mailboxes to Office 365 in 3 Weeks and Save $100K

A seamless move to Office 365 is critical for customers’ happiness and partners’ profitability. But, that’s easier said than done because migration projects can easily become an expensive nightmare.

Aware of this, Finland-based hosted services provider Appelsiini needed a solution that would quickly and easily move its costumers to Office 365 without the hassle. By using BitTitan’s fully automated solution MigrationWiz, they achieved their goal and much more.

The provider moved more than 8,000 mailboxes to O365 simultaneously for three clients, totaling 2TB of data, in just three weeks, with zero downtime. The estimated savings were close to $100,000.

By using MigrationWiz, Appelsiini not only removed the complexity of email migration, but also significantly lowered their total cost of migration, passing along those savings to their customers.

Read the news release to learn how BitTitan’s MigrationWiz can help you make the move.

How to Take High-quality Photos of Fireworks with Your Smartphone

Smartphone camera technology has vastly improved over recent years, giving people the luxury of near-DSLR quality without having to carry a large camera. When 4th of July fireworks begin shooting off into the skies of America this weekend, consider these tips that will help capture your memorable moments in the best quality possible.

  • Get into position early to allow for the best vantage point. Avoid smoke as much as possible by considering the wind direction.
  • Attach your phone to a tripod. While this may not be possible for many users, it does provide more stability (and less blur) as the shutter stays open longer to catch light.
  • No tripod? A worthy alternative is the self-timer feature. This will eliminate the blur caused by a user when touching the screen to take the photo.
  • Avoid digital zoom by investing in a telephoto lens product like the Olloclip.
  • Adjust camera settings while shooting fireworks.  Turn off your flash and HDR settings to start. If your smartphone has a night mode, turn it on for a crisper photo.
  • Don’t rule out manual settings. ISO settings should be set low, ranging from 100 to 200.  Reduce or increase your exposure time by a couple seconds to capture light trails.
  • Apple, Android and Windows app stores offer third party apps giving you more control if your phone doesn’t come standard with manual settings.

Share links to your fireworks photos in our comments section!

What Does the Sprint/T-Mobile Deal Really Mean?

While rumors of the Sprint/T-Mobile deal have been swirling since early December, we’re just now starting to hear more speculation about it. What are the next steps for the development of the story?

First, the deal will undergo an evaluation by the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division to determine how it would affect the U.S. wireless market. Then, the FCC will examine the potential merger to ascertain if the deal is in the public interest.

But in the meantime, two key issues people are talking about are what the deal means for the customer and for spectrum holdings. To give us a better idea of what sort of coverage subscribers can expect if the two companies join forces, Mosaik Solutions created these maps.

We’re eager to see how the deal pans out between now and August. Make sure to check back as we’ll be posting more updates!