Tech round-up: Steam unveils pioneering controller and Amazon launches tablet (From Bucks Free Press)
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Tech round-up: Steam unveils pioneering controller and Amazon launches tablet
This week our gadget guru James Charlton gives us the rundown on recent changes at Google, unveils the new Kindle Fire HDX Tablet and provides a glimpse at the pioneering Steam controller!
CUTTING EDGE: Google Reveals Upgrade to its Search Service
Google has unveiled a new way to deal with online search requests in the form of an algorithm dubbed ‘Hummingbird’. As a matter of fact, it’s already been in place for a month and affects about 90% of search results. At a presentation last week, the tech giant gave away very little on specifics but stated that the upgrade was especially useful for more complex queries. They went on to say that this update was greatly needed as people begin to communicate more naturally with the search engine through their smartphones, computers and other devices. Hummingbird then is focused around intelligent understanding of search requests as opposed to its predecessor ‘Caffeine’ that worked on better indexing of websites. It adds to Google’s ‘Knowledge Graph’ which main aim is to make search interactions more human, plus has already been incorporated into Google Now and Voice Search so we can begin to get the benefit of this service right now.
APPLE: Hiring for Secret ‘Maps’ Project
On Friday Apple posted a vacancy on its website for a ‘Maps Web User Interface Designer’ to help design a new ‘secret project’. They did in fact use those words. Whoever this lucky individual could be, they will likely go beyond working with Maps alone and develop a wider web platform. Obviously, it’s hard to say exactly what this job posting will involve but the rumour is Apple plans to extend its web presence. Perhaps we will see a rival web service to Google Maps, maybe even online apps. This would be a welcome change as Apple have typically focused more on their hardware and haven’t established themselves anywhere near as prominently online. However, it could also be possible that this role is only to develop web tools for existing Apple services, which would not be user facing. Let’s hope not though.
ANDROID: Celebrates its 5th Birthday Today!
It was five years ago today that Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin first showed off the mobile operating system Android. Of course, it wasn’t always owned by Google, they bought the company in August 2005. Now five years since its release, Android has powered more than 12,000 different devices and had over a billion activations. Today’s date also commemorates the launch of the first ever Android device: the HTC Dream. How things have come along since then, it took some time for Android to be accepted by consumers with its features and content lagging far behind the competition. Now though, we see Android pushing out into pole position, receiving a reputation for great customisation and progressive features. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but for the majority of people today, this is their operating system of choice. So Happy Birthday Android.
GADGETS: Amazon Releases New Kindle Fire HDX Tablet
Amazon has unveiled new models of its Kindle Fire range this week in the form of the Fire HDX. This comes with either a 7 inch or 8.9 inch screen, which is capable of auto-adjusting contrast and brightness in response to external light. Both models pack a quad-core 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 processor and 2GB of RAM, which is pretty respectable. The Kindle Fire HDX still runs a modified version of Android, now to be known as ‘Mojito’. We also see a quirky little addition in the form of ‘Mayday’, which allows you to share your screen with a support representative so they can better provide assistance when you face problems. The 7 inch model is set to start shipping around the middle of October with the larger version following in November. Plus you will all be pleased to know that it comes in a variety of storage options for all your multimedia needs. This is a fantastic looking tablet and good job Amazon for getting it in ahead of Apple’s 2nd-gen iPad mini announcement.
GAMING: Valve Announces Haptic Game Controller for 2014
The infamous game developer Valve has just shown off their new Steam Controller, which aims to make PC gaming even easier than before. It features two trackpads which provide haptic feedback, delivering physical sensations to the player. Valve has said they think this is a far better alternative to a keyboard or mouse. Plus in typical Valve style, gamers have been invited to try the device before it’s put on sale in 2014. This is one product in a series of announcements from the gaming giant to move gamers away from the PC and onto the comfort of their sofas. Recently we heard about the Steam Box console and even a full Linux-based, Steam operating system! This is one company that is really trying to change the market for the better. A great deal of research has gone into the new Steam controller to try and give the best, immersive experience yet. But can it succeed in making that classic mouse and keyboard combo a thing of the past?
James is a freelance technology and science writer from Bucks.
His interests range from gadgets and apps to movies and gaming, really anything geeky!
Check back here every week for the latest news and reviews!
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