SiriBnnr

How iOS 7 can save you battery life

Most smartphones today all have the necessary features. So battery life has become a big deciding factor for many people. After all what good are all these new features if the device is dead? Well now that iOS 7 has been out for almost 2 weeks. What does Apple’s new iOS have that might help save user’s valuable battery life.

Apple has made some enhancements to Siri in iOS 7. The digital assistant can now do a lot more than in previous iOS versions. Siri can now turn things on and off including Bluetooth, Wifi and Cellular Data. It might not seem like a big deal to have your Wifi, Cellular Data and Bluetooth on all the time but the radios do use battery power. So why have them on consuming power especially at times when they are not in use. Now it would be a pretty daunting task to turn them on and off manually whenever you leave the house, office, or wherever else you have or don’t have wifi, need or don’t need bluetooth. But now with Siri, iOS 7 makes it easy and this is one way iOS 7 can save you battery life.

The only thing to keep in mind is that Siri needs a connection to the internet in order to work. So before you turn off the Cellular Data or Wifi connection you must always turn on the corresponding one to keep you connected to the internet. Just remember on first before turning off. Let’s say you are leaving your house and with it your Wifi connection. The drill goes something like this, enable Siri and say “turn on cellular data”. This will turn on cellular data, your 3G or LTE internet connection. The next step is to say “turn off wifi”, yes it’s as easy as that. You will now save yourself some battery life by not having your wifi radio on even though it is not being used. The same goes for bluetooth so if you’re not using a headset or some other device that is connected by bluetooth turn it off for a little extra savings.

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iOS 7 also introduced Control Center. You can get to it by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. The control center is accessible from the lock screen and home screen. It also allows the user to manually toggle wifi and bluetooth among other things on and off. There is no cellular data so that one will still remain accessible only through the Settings menu or by using Siri like we did above. However now telling someone to turn off their wifi or bluetooth is not a long string of menu options. It ican be done by simply swiping up from the bottom of the screen and then turning them off from within Control Center (highlighted in a box in the image below).

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It might seem simple but give it a try and see if the battery life savings are worth it to you.

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Event

iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iOS 7 what did we get

On Tuesday of this week, Sept. 10th, Apple held their event. We speculated on what we would get and talked about the other questions that still remained to be answered. Well now we have our answers. The iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iOS 7 were shown off so what did we get? Well we’re going to cover some of the details and also talk about some of the questions that are now created about where do they go form here. The video of the keynote is now available on the Apple site, go watch it.

So to go through what we got to see at the keynote, there was the

iPhone 5c (Android Free)

The iPhone everyone thought was going to be cheap turned out to be “less expensive” instead. No one should have been surprised since Apple doesn’t do cheap and yet they were. When netbooks proliferated the computer landscape Apple did the MacBook Air. It was far from cheap but “less expensive” than a MacBook Pro. The iPhone 5c is the same. It is far from cheap but at $99 for a 16GB model on a 2 Year contract(US) it’s cheap enough that it becomes a throwaway phone. It’s something parents can buy their teen as an emergency phone. It’s a phone people less interested with the latest and greatest technology as well as people coming from a feature phone can buy without sticker shock.

So the iPhone 5c comes in five colors, white, pink, yellow, blue and green. Yes pink, not red or fuchsia they proudly proclaimed it pink on stage.

5c

The phone internals are the same as what is in last years model, the iPhone 5, with the exception of a slightly bigger battery and a slightly better FaceTime camera. This is impressive because I own an iPhone 5 and it is one hell of a smartphone. The wallpaper that comes on the iPhone 5c will match the color of the phone plus with iOS 7′s transparencies the OS will play even more on the color aspect. The pricing on contract is 16GB at $99, 32GB at $199 and $549 off contract. The pre-orders for the iPhone 5c will be available tonight and the phones will go on sale next Friday Sept. 20th.

iPhone 5s (Forward Thinking)

The iPhone 5s is the flagship model and brought a lot of things that were already rumored but became reality. The iPhone 5s comes in three colors, Silver, Gold and Space Grey. The silver and gold models have a white face and white accents while the space grey is the only model with a black face and black accents.

i5s

So they have added one more color, the gold but for me it sucks because I don’t like the white face. I wonder why they didn’t have the gold with both a white and black face? Perhpas this is just my personal color bias but I would have loved a black and gold model. It’s a trivial thing I will just get the Sky Grey model but I’m just a little sad at the lost oppurtunity :_(

Starting down bottom you will notice that the home button no longer has the little rounded rectangle on it. It also now has a stainless stell ring around it with the introduction of the Touch ID fingerprint scanner. The Touch ID will be used to unlock the device as well as authenticate a user for app store purchases. It can be trained to know up to 5 different finger prints and has 360 degree readability. The all new A7 chip inside is a 64 bit processor, the first in mobile and although it may not make sense on the iPhone it’s forward thinking for other iOS devices and future iPhone models. The new iOS 7 operating system (OS) is also 64 bit taking users along for the 64 bit transition of iOS devices. Now 64 bit typically means the ability to address more memory but it also means instead of doing things faster it does more things at the same speed. So you still end up accomplishing more but in a different way. Just imagine two people trying to eat as many hot dogs as they can. One guy takes normal sized bites but eats as fast as possible. While the other guy eats at the same speed but he takes bites twice as big. Even though he’s eating at the same speed as the first guy the bigger bites means he’ll finish faster. The ability to address more memory might not make sense now but in the iPads or in future generations of the iPhone and iPads that ability to address more than 3GB or RAM will make sense.

Continuing with the upgrades inside was the introduction of a new chip the M7. The new chip measures motion by taking readins from the accelorometer, gyroscope and compass. A task that would have be done by the A7, so that frees up some computing cycles on the A7 chip itself. The M7 chip allows for a new breed of apps while adding to the existing functions of the phone. The chip knows if you’re driving, running, walking, or sleeping. So for example if you switch from driving to walking the Maps app will switch from driving directions to walking directions automatically.

The cameras on the iPhone 5s got some upgrades too ofcourse. It now has a dual LED flash which is able to combine depending on the lighting of the scene being photographed to create better colors and skintones. The back camera now has a larger sensor, larger pixels and a larger aperture which all combine to let in more light for better pictures. This combines with the camera app in iOS 7 for new features like. Burst mode which snaps multiple shots at 10 images a second, great for action shots. Slow motion video, the camera shoots video at 120 frames per second allowing the user to play back the video at 1/4 of the speed for interesting effects. The front camera also has larger pixels along with better backside illumination. Better backside illumination allows more light to the sensor resulting in better pictures and video for great FaceTime calls and world renowned “selfies”.

The iPhone 5s will be sold at the same prices previous models of iPhones have sold at. On a 2 year contract (US) 16GB at $199, 32GB at $299 and 64GB at $399 while off contract the 16GB iPhone 5s starts at $649 (US). There will be no pre-order available for the iPhone 5s and they will go on sale next Friday Sept. 20th. You can get them at your local Apple store or by going to a carrier store. Although carrier stores usually don’t get as much stock on launch day as the Apple store.

iOS 7

The new OS has undergone some drastic changes to the look and feel while still doing most things the same way it always has. The new OS will be released to everyone next Wednesday Sept. 18th. It will support iPhone 4 and newer, iPad 2 and newer and iPad Mini. Beyond the new look and colors there are many refinements as well as new features that enable a user to get things done faster and easier. The notification center is now available from the lock screen to enable glancable information. There is a new Control Center that gives the user quick access to some of the typical phone controls like Wifi, Airplane mode, Bluetooth, etc. The Control Center is also available from the lock screen. Some users will not like the new colors and look of the interface and icons. Some will not like system changes like swiping down from anywhere on the home screen to open Finder instead of swiping the home screen right. You can’t please everyone but I have a feeling that this iOS will please almost everyone and that is Apple’s aim with it.

iOS 7

iWork (Free)

The next big announcement was that iWork for mobile which they listed as consisting of Keynote, Pages, Numbers, iMovie and iPhoto was going free. It will be going free for new iOS devices and as I have been told devices running iOS 7. This is awesome news for me since I already own two of the five software and would love to have the others. It will be a great bundle and should be yet another plus for users looking at upgrading their iOS device. It will also be a great addition to users upgrading to iOS 7. When users install iOS 7 there should be a prompt like there is now for downloading iBooks and the Podcasts app. It will now also include the five apps listed above.

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Questions

Naming
Now that this has all been revealed there are a few questions that come out of these new introductions. With the release of the iPhone 5c the iPhone 5 model is gone. So going forward what is Apple going to name their iPhones? Next year will be the iPhone 6 and most likely the iPhone 6c with the iPhone 5s internals. However if there is an iPhone 6s there would be an iPhone 7c. Apple can call these devices whatever they want and it will sell but having the c model with a higher number than the flagship iPhone just does not seem feasible to me. They could also just kep the iPhone 6c name for release with both the iPhone 6 and 6s by upgrading the internals inside based on the previous year’s model. However even though the device is different having the same name just doesn’t seem sexy enough in my opinion. What I think is that they will drop the “s” model and just stick with full number releases from now on with the “c” model alongside. So there will be an iPhone 6 and 6c, 7 and 7c, 8 and 8c, etc. There would also be the possibility of them dropping the number altogether and having just the iPhone and iPhone c like they did with the iPad. However that also has it’s own advertising downsides.

Screen
Now that the iPhone 5s is out the rumors of the iPhone 6 are already starting to swirl. The biggest thing is that Apple will release an iPhone with a bigger screen. We are one year away so there is plenty of time for this rumor to pick up steam. I’m still not sure how I would feel about a bigger screen and it would depend how big of a screen. I love the screen size right now and the ease of using the phone with one hand. However if there was a 5″ iPhone I would definitely buy it. Any bigger than 5″ and for me personally that is too big. I would have to pass on that model and that will be the question Apple will contemplate if they are thinking of doing a bigger screen iPhone. Users all have different sized hands along with different opinions on what size is comfortable and what size is too big. As with Apple’s devices they make decisions based on what benefits the majority of their users. So if they do go to a bigger sized screen I’m sure it will be at a size that will please existing users and entice some users. But it wont please everyone so we’ll see if it happens at all.

64 bit
The A7 chip and iOS 7 are both now 64 bit. The upcoming iPads will have the new chip so does the 64bit come into play on those devices which would make much more use of more than 3GB of RAM? Or is this a future play for 7 or 8th generation iPhones/iPads that will eventually use RAM capacities north of 3GBs?

Well one thing is for sure it was an interesting event with some great devices launched. So are you getting a new iPhone 5s or 5c?

Pictures: The Verge, Apple

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cyber-attack

Are Cyber Attacks something to worry about?

There have been several high-profile cyber attacks in the last few of weeks. Chinese hackers attacked the New York Times and Wall Street Journal; Facebook and Apple were also the targets of malicious software attacks in the past. The question is whether or not this is something that regular consumers should be worried about.

For the most part, cyber attack coverage is FUD

If you aren’t aware FUD stands for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. For the most part the media blows most of these cyber attack stories way out of proportion. In other words, the media perpetuates FUD. Nothing sells newspapers more than fear.

If companies do their updates and protect their data with backups, cyber attacks are hardly ever as bad as the media makes them out to be. The Apple and Facebook hacks for instance, were the result of employees of the two companies visiting a site with malicious code on it. The code took advantage of a known flaw in Java, and some employee’s computers were infected. No consumer data was affected in either case, but the media went crazy with headlines like “Apple admits to being hacked!!!!!!!!!!” or “Facebook’s data put in jeopardy by hackers!!!!!!!!!!!” Neither one of those headlines is actually helpful nor informative on what actually happened.

The problem is that, like in the old newspaper days, websites have to get clicks in order to make money. So they come up with sensationalist headlines to get people to view their content. If you read a headline about Apple’s data being hacked, you would probably click on it to find out if your data was compromised. What these headlines fail to do is tell the truth. A proper headline for this hack would be “Apple suffers from malware attack, no data lost”. This of course wouldn’t get the attention that a more sensationalistic headline would.

There are problems, however

Just because the media blows these minor hacks out of proportion, doesn’t mean cyber attacks aren’t something we shouldn’t worry about. The United States does need to be on guard for a terrorist or foreign cyber attack. This will be the next type of warfare, and it could actually result in an actual war. Countries, like China, are always trying to gain intelligence on the US, just as the US is always trying to get information on other countries.

Cyber attacks are more dangerous to the entire country than they ever will be to individuals. China doesn’t care about getting US customer information or Facebook data, they want trade secrets and information on their own citizens.

What the average customer has to worry about is the average everyday hacker who is actually trying to steal their data. Whether the hackers are trying to do this by hacking a company or by installing malicious code on users’ computers, they actually want credit card info and other identifying data. Customers need to be on guard for this sort of thing by making sure their computers are up to date, and by turning off Java and Flash when they aren’t absolutely needed.

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Sale

1Password 4 now 1/2 off

This is happening for a limited time only so if you’re not already using 1Password on your iOS device or your computer better get it while it’s hot.

If you don’t know what 1Password is it’s an application to store your passwords and sensitive information. It is secure and built by a trusted name so there is nothing to fear about using it. We did a post awhile back about putting together a secure password and one of the things about having secure passwords is for them all to be different. This app makes that possible because you can lock all the passwords away safely and you only need to remember one secure password, the one to open up the 1Password app.

Right now if you buy 1Password like we said it is 1/2 off:
1Password 4 for iOS is $8, regularly $16
You can get the iOS app which is universal here
1Password for Mac is $25, regularly $50 and if you buy the Mac version right now you will automatically get a free upgrade to 1Password 4 when it is released for the Mac.
The Mac app is located here

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iWatch Bnnr

The iWatch myth or reality

The iWatch myth or reality? I’m not sure we’ll have the answer to this question until it is soon to be released. Is Apple dropping subtle little hints at it’s coming debut. Apple is a really secretive company and they are also a company known to use mis-direction very well. So even the latest tease of the mythical iWatch in their newly released iPhone commercial does nothing to answer the question.

I’m just as split on the possibility of the iWatch even being something Apple would put out anytime soon. When the rumors first started to surface I was excited and it almost seemed to make sense but the more I thought about it the less viable it seemed. Apple doesn’t do bleeding edge technologies and what I mean by that is they wait until the new technology is proven and perfected. People have pointed at the fact that they waited to put 3G in the iPhone and again Apple wasn’t the first to have LTE in their devices. Wearable technology is nowhere right now so would they venture into the waters to produce the iWatch? Then considering what an iWatch would need to sell for to make it a hit with consumers and what it would be sold for to make it a profitable device I’m almost sure those two price points do not even come close. The final reason is what benefit would the iWatch bring much like their reluctance to include NFC in the iPhone because there is really no problem that it solves.

All the things that a person could name that the iWatch could do can all be done by an already existing mobile device so what would be the pull of the iWatch. When I think about it the only thing I can come up with is that the iWatch would offload some of the things an iPhone or iPad would do. The more inconsequential things but offloading those things would save the devices some battery life and right now that is the holy grail of mobile devices. I’m just not sure how many people are going to be lining up to buy a $250 iWatch that can only do a fraction of the things their exsisting smartphone or tablet device does already. Well anyway enough of me jabbering on and on about it.

As I was saying Apple put up a new iPhone ad on their Youtube channel “Music Every Day”. In the ad they show different people enjoying music thorughout their day on the iPhone. As 9to5Mac was quick to point out at about the 30 second mark there is a person enjoying their music while drumming out a beat. On their wrist is a watch that curiously looks less like a normal watch and more like you would expect an iWatch to look. At the same time the image is ofcourse not even close enough to being distinguishable so really it could go either way. “I see what you did their Apple” nice one, I guess for now we will not know whether it will ever become a reality. But it sure is a lot of fun to speculate.

Sources: 9to5Mac and Youtube

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Bnnr2

Mobile battery life could be getting better

There have been countless posts about the new importance battery life plays as a deciding factor in mobile electronics. Most smartphones today do pretty much the same basics, equivalent of the point A to point B reference commonly used. So one of the biggest differentiator has become battery life, after all what good are all the features if you can’t use them? Well it seems that some new breakthroughs mean mobile battery life could be getting better eventually.

There are some things that are being held back by the constraints of battery life.Take for example Siri, the digital personal assistant on Apple’s iOS devices. Currently the assistant has to be activated with a key press because having the device listen for audio ques would cause horrible battery life. This is just one example of a feature that could be made exponentially better if battery life was removed from the eqaution as a concern. Well then the new advancements that have been made at the University of Illinois could have a very big impact in that area. The article “Small in size, big on power” explains how the microbatteries offer phenominal power in their small size. The article explains that,

The most powerful batteries on the planet are only a few millimeters in size, yet they pack such a punch that a driver could use a cellphone powered by these batteries to jump-start a dead car battery – and then recharge the phone in the blink of an eye.

Now that is some serious juice and could unlock a world of potential in mobile computing. Potential in both features and also the size of devices. I’m all for a time when running low on battery power is not a concern the same day devices are charged.

Now if you pair that with the work of a California teen who has come up with a way to recharge a dead phone in just 20 seconds flat the future of mobile technology looks even brighter. Just this past long weekend here in Canada as we celebrated Victoria Day my iPhone was brought to it’s knees. Before I powered it off at 10% battery life. I was at a trailer enjoying the sunshine and barbeque food with family and friends. I was doing some internet browsing, on a few social networks and all of it through LTE so my battery was understandable getting low. As a result I’ve started looking for external battery packs that I can use to extend the charge of my mobile devices. With a two week holiday coming up later this year I’m anticipating a greater need for the device. Well imagine if all it took to recharge my battery was 20 seconds, 5 minutes would make me jump for joy so at under half a minute that is just unbelievable.

As this Yahoo piece explains Eesha Khare used her impressive knowledge of chemistry to solve the issue of a “dead battery” in mobile devices. She invented an energy storage device that can charge a cell phone in 20-30 seconds! The “supercapacitor” stores lots of energy in a tiny space and can hold it for a long time. It also lasts for 10,000 recharge cycles, compared to the usual 1,000 for current rechargeable batteries. The invention was part of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair that took place in Phoenix, AZ a week ago. Eesha Khare for her supercapacitor got the Young Scientist Award along with $50,000. The prize however is very small compared to what this could mean for the world of mobile. So with brilliant people making these kind of advancements the future of mobile looks even brighter. It must be powered by a microbattery.

Sources: Illinois News Bureau, NBC.com and Yahoo

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Bnnr

Why Google Glass is a perfect play by Google

Google Glass is the best thing Google has done for many reasons. It is much more important than their Android OS and no one even knows it yet. Why google glass is a perfect play by Google begins with the fact that they have first mover advantage. But it goes far beyond that, it spiders into everything Google and that is why it can become their most important venture, if it is done right!

Google Glass like iTunes has first mover advantage. There are no competitors in the market yet and what that does is allow Google to develop their 1.0 product and perfect it long before anyone gets a clue and joins the party. It is a huge advantage for them because when the device does become more popular and competitors appear Google will already have a huge head start. I compared it to iTunes because iTunes existed long before the iPhone, iPad, App store, etc. ever came about. It was just yet another media player. This afforded Apple the time to work on it, implement and get things working while having it work on Macs and Windows. Then when the mp3 craze hit and iPods became a craze it became the gateway to media and a way to control the device. The iPhone, iPad and app store then just increased the place iTunes plays in the complete package.

Now think about how Google Glass will tie into all of Google’s enterprises. It will allow the person wearing it to use Google’s search engine whenever they have a question or quandary. Google will have images from all over the world with Exif data. Images that can be incorporated into Google Maps for up to the minute data of locations. Apps developed for Goggle Glass will tie into the Android ecosystem enticing developers to push the platform further. The glasses will enable users to use all of Google’s services without effort. It will have the same effect as buying apps or music for 99 cents in iTunes. The low price makes the purchase an afterthought and that is what makes it so easy to shop. In the same way the ease of use of Google Glass will make the use of Google services an afterthought.

There will be some hurdles though, the first of which will be society. The possibilities of being recorded at anytime will call privacy into question and that is a very big hurdle. There might be indicators of when the glasses are taking a picture, recording video and/or audio. However hackers will quickly and easily be able to remove those indicators I’m sure. Then as with anything else there is always as much use of it for less than moral things as there will be for the use intended. Use of the device by voyeurs, spies and not to mention the criminal element will demand systems in place to counteract those possibilities if possible.

Yet another hurdle will be the need for people to talk to their devices. Whether asking questions, searching for things or dictating an email. There are already digital assistants that respond to voice, Siri and Google Now are just a few. Yet like the first bluetooth headsets most people still feel uncomfortable using them in very public places. The stigma of talking to yourself still exists along with the fact that private and personal things would need to be said instead of written. Things that people may not want to be public knowledge but perhaps like privacy, which is in a very different place now than it was years ago due to social networks and other online services. The whole attitude about talking to our devices might change and maybe Google Glass is the thing to push that shift. If that happens we might just end up knowing a lot more about each other more than we care to know in some cases.

If Google is able to market the glasses properly and get over the hurdles it has great possibilities. Schools would be a great place to have Google Glass for each student. It could eventually enable students not to take notes but instead to listen to the teacher/professor during class. The glasses’ OCR would pick up the written material on the blackboard and transfer it to a document while the student listened to the lesson. Then talk about an easy way to catch up on missed classes students could just borrow the video from a friend and share the electronic notes. The possibilities are just endless, malls could have their layout in a code that would be scanned by shoppers. Then when you need to find a store it’s as simple as looking it up or asking the glasses for directions. Shopping in a store and need to know the price of an item just scan the tag. These things for the most part are available now in more rudimentary ways. The best part for Google is the company will become the purveyor of all data!

This is why Google Glass is a perfect play by Google. But it will all depend on how it is handled so Google better hope they don’t drop the ball on it’s development and roll out. How we react to Google Glass depends on the user experience, how it is advertised and how accessible it is to customers aka price. So I guess we will just have to wait and see how it plays out in time.

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GFiber

Google Fiber everywhere

You have inevitably hear about Google Fiber by now. It has launched in Kansas City, will be expanding to Austin Texas and was announced to be heading to Provo Utah.  Google Fiber is using Google installed fiber optics to bring internet and TV service at Google says 100 times faster. The hope is that Google would eventually step into the ring as an Internet Service Provider(ISP) and bring Google Fiber nationwide. However many posts have been written about the enormous cost it would take and also the roadblocks and hurdles Google would face to take on such an endeavour. However there is a way that there could be Google Fiber everywhere.

Well at least here in North America. The problem is just one word “Greed” but you’ll understand more about that when we get into it. It will take many billions of dollars to bring Google Fiber to all the cities in North America. A huge cost even for Google but if you think about what fiber and that 100 times faster internet means there is a way that it might happen. The recent talks of the new video game consoles Sony’s Playstation 4 and Microsoft’s XBox 720 or whatever it will be called brought up a very interesting idea. The idea that games would be streamed to the consoles making a fast and stable internet connection a must. Then if you think about the topic of streaming music like Matt Weber imagines again Google Fiber would make it a more attainable goal.

Google might not have enough money on their own to tackle this project but if they roped in Microsoft, Sony and some of the other big companies who stand to gain from Google Fiber. Then it could very well become a reality and along with it crazy internet speeds that would enable gaming consoles to stream games like butter. The North American market is huge for video games and since the casual market and mobile devices have gained in popularity gaming consoles are not what they once were. So they stand to gain in a very big way from having Google Fiber in as many places as possible. However like I said the problem is going to be greed. When you have so many big companies in one venture it will undoubtedly lead to them arguing over who gets a cut of what. Parties will threaten to go to the existing ISPs who will be shaking at the thought of Google Fiber. That would be the huge monkey wrench that smashes the possibility of innovation and advancement and that’s too bad.

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FlatWorld

What Will Web 3.0 Look Like?

If you think about it, web 2.0 was first a thing about a decade ago. It seems an awful long time for the web to have stayed on the same version. Are we on 3.0 yet? If not, what will web 3.0 look like?

A Web of Apps

In web 3.0, web apps will reign supreme. More and more sites you use will cease to be websites and become full fledge applications that live on the web. It is already happening with some sites like news aggregator news360.com. In a world where the web is apps, each app will have much more functionality than a traditional website. Things like the ability to interact with your computer in new ways, better graphics and speeds, higher resolutions and more.

You will use the apps on the web just like you use apps on your computer or smartphone. You will be able to store the icons in a folder or on your desktop or home screen, and access them individually instead of through a browser.

Apps should also have the added benefit of being more secure. Since Apple, Google and Microsoft are requiring and building in sandboxing into browsers and web apps, things like viruses and malware should, in theory, be less likely to take over your system.

Will Websites be Extinct?

Websites won’t go away entirely. There will always be things that simply work better as websites instead of apps. Things like blogs and news sites are likely to stay websites, though you will begin to see some app functionality filter into those sites as well. Photo sites like Flickr will become apps instead of websites. They will have functionality beyond what a website can do, and will feel like a native experience.

The reason why all this will be possible is because of HTML 5, which as the newest web standard, offers web developers more access to system resources, as well as new and exciting ways of coding functionality into sites.

When will it happen?

This is not likely to happen over night, but you are already beginning to see it. Almost all the major browsers have “app stores” which offer users access to web applications. When Web 3.0 takes over you will not even have to install the app, you will just visit it via the URL where the website used to be. At first you might have the choice of the website or the app, but eventually it will just be the default.

Conclusions

The Internet is nowhere near done evolving. While it may seem like websites have been the same for a long time, they are about to change in a dramatic fashion. Thanks to HTML 5, web developers will have the ability to showcase their skills on the web like other developers can do with native code. Some day, HTML apps will take the place of regular apps entirely, though that is many years away.

Image Source

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Tax Time

How the Internet has Changed Tax Time

It’s almost that time of year again: Tax Time. You’ve received your W2 and all of your tax docs and you’re thinking about sitting down and doing your taxes. If you remember just a few years ago, you would have to go to the library or post office, pick up a hundred-page instruction book and a five-page form. The Internet has changed all of that forever, and soon everyone will do his or her taxes online.

A Web of Tax Sites

In the last few years tax help and tax filing sites have bloomed across the Internet. This has been aided by the IRS’ addition of e-filing, which allows users to truly file their taxes online. Before that online tools were just there to help out tax filers by filling in forms and printing them out. Now with e-filing, users don’t (usually) even have to physically sign their tax return forms, they just have to electronically sign them by providing certain information.

The elimination of mailing in forms and waiting weeks and weeks to hear about your refund has revolutionized the way people do taxes. Instead of waiting until the last-minute, people can do their taxes beginning in mid-January and have their refunds back by the beginning of February. All of this because of the Internet.

Reducing Errors and Audits

Filing taxes online has also had the added benefit of more people understanding taxes because they are doing them themselves, instead of paying someone else to do it for them. This means that tax software websites have had to make taxes as easy to do as possible. This has led to less chance of significant errors, and easier reporting of errors when they do occur.

Nobody is saying that audits are becoming less frequent, I’m sure that they still happen quite often. But it seems to me that when you do your own taxes with the benefit of plain English instructions, you tend to make fewer mistakes. You understand more because there are instructions and explanations that you won’t get if you pay a tax professional to just do it for you.

Conclusions

It is amazing what the Internet has done for something that people have dreaded since Roman times. The future is here when it comes to filing taxes, because all you need is the Internet. This is what technology can truly do for our democratic responsibilities, if we only let it. Could voting be next? We have found a way for the IRS to be sure of our identity online, enough so that they let us file the most important financial documents of the year online. Can we do the same for electing our government officials? It seems that the problems are somewhat the same. We do not want people to file duplicate tax forms, and we don’t want people to vote twice. It seems like a problem that can be easily solved.

What do you think? Has filing taxes online made the process less painful?

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