Microsoft unveils a lot of big changes for Windows 10

 

Single-purpose apps are dead, long live multi-purpose software

Single-purpose apps are dead, long livemulti-purpose software

 

We’re living in a world where every single facet of our lives, both personally and professionally, can be managed by an app. From standalone grammar checkers to email hunters to digital project boards, there’s an app for every function imaginable.

This current state of specialization has now fully hit its stride. The ability to offer specific software on-demand at lower costs — the SaaS model — democratized the software industry, allowing various niche providers to enter the field with greater accessibility.

Enterprises are facing the same threat of software oversaturation when it comes to business solutions. Most companies today operate across a variety of platforms in order to oversee essential functions like marketing, sales, accounting and HR. But is this system of hyper-specialization sustainable?

THE ISSUES WITH OVERSPECIALIZATION

Overspecialization can limit expertise, restrict macro-level thinking and decrease productivity. That’s because specialized software solves only one problem really well, yet most businesses are dealing with a barrage of problems at any given time.

Not to mention the fact that more problems actually arise once we reach the point of oversaturation. For example, flipping back and forth between specific tabs, apps, devices and programs quickly becomes tedious. But more importantly, it wastes valuable time, requires intensive training and interrupts the user’s workflow, leaving more room for errors or lack of adoption altogether.

Salespeople, for instance, often cite customer relationship management (CRM) systems as a major cause of inefficiency, productivity loss and poor overall employee satisfaction. That’s because most CRM systems require salespeople to manually enter data and jump back and forth between spreadsheets, calendars and email, which means they’re spending the majority of their time updating their CRM rather than actually selling.

So where do we go from here?

MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS

One way to solve the hyper-specialized software dilemma is to create more expansive software solutions through mergers and acquisitions. Bigger software companies — productivity suites in particular — can broaden their offerings or improve existing products by acquiring younger, more innovative upstarts.

Take Google for example. Google’s efforts to become a big enterprise software player are evident in the volume of their acquisitions over the last few years. Two of their more recent acquisitions include Limes Audio, a Swedish company that will strengthen Google’s video conferencing capabilities, and Qwiklabs, a company that creates tools to help get people up to speed on the G Suite productivity service.

Acquisitions and mergers don’t just benefit tech giants, either. Salesforce was once considered a niche software startup, but through its acquisitions the software company has become one of the biggest names in cloud computing — two notable acquisitions outside of the CRM space include Quip, an upstart cloud productivity platform, and Demandware, a cloud-based e-commerce platform.

INTEGRATIONS AND CROSS-APP COMMUNICATION

Another way to solve the complications of software oversaturation is through better software integrations and cross-app communication. If software companies continue to offer standalone solutions or introduce niche solutions to the market, they should play well with the core productivity software that businesses and consumers rely on already, like email, spreadsheets or word processors.

For example, Google and Intuit announced plans to integrate G Suite and QuickBooks Online last fall. Prior to this collaboration, business managers were wasting valuable time manually entering QuickBooks accounting tasks into their Google Calendar.

According to a survey, more than half of QuickBooks users were already using Google Calendar to book appointments. Vinay Pai, Vice President and Head of the Intuit Developer Group, said in a statement, “By bringing our technologies together, we will create important efficiencies between two solutions customers are already using.”

THE FUTURE OF SOFTWARE

It’s clear we’re nearing the point of software oversaturation — look to the declining rate of mobile app installs for evidence. According to a recent report, half of U.S. smartphone users download zero apps per month. People are looking for less clutter, so we must create more comprehensive software experiences for both individuals and businesses through strategic M&As and seamless integrations.

The software industry is continuously evolving, meaning software providers of the future need to adapt or risk failure. The most successful ones will find a way to offer a necessary service without contributing to software overload — or better yet, design software to live within the apps we’re already using most.

T-Mobile’s Digits service will be available to all customers starting next week

T-Mobile is announcing today that its Digits service, which has been in beta testing since late last year, will be available to all of its customers starting next Wednesday, May 31st. Digits allows T-Mobile customers to synchronize multiple phones, tablets, computers, smartwatches, and other devices to their phone numbers, similar to how Google’s Voice service works. The service also allows multiple numbers to be used with a single device, eliminating the need to carry multiple phones for personal and work needs.

 

Digits users can send text messages from their tablet or PC and have them appear as if they came from their phone. T-Mobile says that the service can allow families to have a shared phone number that rings all of their devices, no matter where they are. Or a second Digits number can be used as a burner line for when sharing your main phone number isn’t appropriate or safe.

Digits works with any Android or iOS device. The messaging service can be accessed on any device with a Chrome or Firefox browser, and the company provides apps for Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows that support it. Recent Samsung phones and the LG G5 have native integration for Digits in their existing dialers — other devices, such as the iPhone, will have to use the Digits app to place phone calls and manage their Digits lines. Messages sent through iMessage will not be synced to the Digits service.

 

T-Mobile says that during the beta test of the service, most customers used the ability to message from their PCs and tablets, while some found the ability to ring multiple devices with one number useful. Calls placed with the service use T-Mobile’s VoLTE and circuit-switched networks, which are the same as any other phone call, and do not rely on over-the-top data connections like other messaging apps do.

T-Mobile is offering the service on all of its existing lines for free. Additional Digits lines are available for $10 per month, though for a limited time, customers that subscribe to T-Mobile One Plus will get an extra Digits line at no additional cost. 

DJI’s new selfie drone is controlled with just a wave of your hand

The Spark is about the size of a can of soda and costs $499.

DJI

DJI, the world’s biggest drone company, has a tiny new drone called the Spark. It’s the most affordable, accessible drone yet from the Chinese drone maker, costing $499.

The Spark weighs only half a pound and is about the size of a can of soda. It’s designed to be carried for daily, spontaneous use, like in a backpack. And unlike DJI’s other drones, which are piloted via a smartphone or a separate controller, the Spark uses gesture recognition, meaning it moves in the direction you wave your hand, making it super easy to position in front of you.

The Spark can even land using gesture control, as was demonstrated in an unveiling event today when the presenter landed the small drone on his palm. The Sparks flies at about 31 miles per hour.

DJI

The new drone comes only seven months after DJI released its foldable Mavic Pro, an extremely accessible, no-experience-necessary drone that has become popular among new drone adopters and seasoned operators alike. But at $999, the Mavic is still a big investment for people who are new to drones and just flying for fun.

DJI’s move to introduce a small, more affordable camera drone follows reports that Snapchat has been exploring building a drone that would presumably also be ideal for selfies and social media sharing. But beyond short reports about the possibility of a Snap drone, there has yet to be any strong indicator that the company will have an aircraft to show off anytime soon.

Like other consumer drones, the Spark has a short flight time. It only flies for 16 minutes before needing to swap batteries or be recharged (though its batteries can be recharged with a micro USB on the go). The larger Mavic can fly for 27 minutes and GoPro’s Karma clocks about 20 minutes of flight time.

But short flying time hasn’t stopped people from buying new drones, and analysts predict the market will only continue to grow. The analyist firm Gartner estimates that this year the global personal drone market will be valued at $2.8 billion.

And by the Federal Aviation Administration’s own count, in the past 18 months over 820,000 people have registered to fly their drone in the U.S. Though the FAA’s drone registration numbers have served as a helpful indicator of the rising popularity of drone technology, as of Friday new drone owners flying for non-commercial purposes, like for recreation or hobbyist photography, no longer need to register their new drone with the FAA. A federal court ruled last week that the agency’s registration requirement was a violation of a law prohibiting the regulation of model aircraft.

For its part, DJI supported the FAA’s registration requirement. It said over the weekend that all international DJI drone owners will have to activate their drone with the company in order to have full flight capabilities. DJI says this registration requirement will help ensure that drone users have the correct firmware updates, which may include safety features like geofencing to keep the drone from flying in restricted airspace.

The Spark also comes with all kinds of video and image capturing features that edit small, shareable video clips with filters that can be posted to social media immediately. The drone takes 12-megapixel photos and shoots in 1080p HD stabilized video.

It comes in five colors: Alpine White, Sky Blue, Meadow Green, Lava Red and Sunrise Yellow.

Spark is available for sale now on DJI’s website and has an estimated ship date of June 15.

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Google Lens vision recognition

Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Wednesday announced a new initiative called Lens that uses computer vision and image recognition to help you with everything from editing photos to identifying a flower, simply by taking a picture.

"Google Lens is a set of vision-based computing capabilities that can understand what you're looking at and help you take action based on that information," Pichai said at the Google I/O developers' conference. "We will ship first in Google Photos and Assistant and it will come to other products."

Pichai explained that using computer vision, you will be able to remove noise from low-light photos as well as remove an obstruction between you and your subject. He showed, for example, how you can edit out the fence you were forced to shoot through at your child's baseball game.

 
Using Google Lens in Assistant, you'll be able to point your phone's camera at a flower and have it automatically identify the flower for you. Pichai showed how Lens could also be used to automatically join a wireless network by simply pointing your camera at a network name and password label on a router. In another example, he used Lens to quickly show information on a restaurant by, again, pointing your camera at the actual restaurant.

Google Lens will be rolled out in Assistant and Photos later this year.