Google to bring Android to cars with a little help from Audi, GM, Hyundai, Honda and NVIDIA

Google to bring Android to cars with a little help from Audi, GM, Hyundai, Honda and NVIDIA

Already with more than one billion activations on mobile and media devices, Google’s Android is set to make an impact on another major industry: automobiles. Following rumors that the search giant was working with Audi to embed its open-source OS inside its cars, the company confirmed today it has teamed up with five automotive and technology companies (with more expected in the future) to form the Open Automotive Alliance. Alongside Audi, Google will be joined by General Motors, Hyundai, Honda and chip-maker NVIDIA, which will all work to bring Android to cars starting this year. The coalition aims to create a common platform that will drive innovation and in turn make cars “safer and more intuitive for everyone.” With Apple and Nokia already pushing hard to bring their own software to cars — Apple already counts Honda, GM and Hyundai as Siri Eyes Free partners — 2014 could be a big year for connected cars. SOURCE: Open Automotive...

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Steam sets a new record as over 7 million gamers log in at once

Steam sets a new record as over 7 million gamers log in at once

Assuming Steam’s user base is still around the 65 million mark, as Valve reported at the end of the October, over 10 percent of the gaming platform’s patrons were logged-in at the same time yesterday, setting a record in the process. More than seven million people were online simultaneously, which is roughly a million above the peak login record Steam hit around the same time last year. While that number might be fact, whether it holds any meaning is altogether harder to deduce. Is this indicative of a surge in PC gaming? Well, we’d need way more stats to make that kind of claim, as fluctuations in the user base of huge non-Steam titles like World of Warcraft, League of Legends and Starcraft 2 to name a few, surely play a part in that discussion. One could also hypothesize the record shows PCs holding firm following a few recent, rather high-profile console launches, but these Steam users may also have new black boxes in their living rooms. Not that we think there’s anything better than killing a lazy Sunday playing Dota 2, but perhaps the number of concurrent logins were just a bunch of people who thought to check Steam for one last bargain. Who knows, maybe it was aliens? With Valve getting ready to flog its own hardware and OS, though, we know at least one person that’s seen seven million and hasn’t stopped rubbing his hands together since. SOURCE: Steam...

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Next Windows release reportedly codenamed ‘Threshold,’ set to further unify Microsoft operating systems

Next Windows release reportedly codenamed ‘Threshold,’ set to further unify Microsoft operating systems

Microsoft’s on the, erm, threshold of something big — something that’s likely to make its three major operating systems even more similar. Queen of Microsoft leaks Mary Jo Foley has caught word from some unnamed contacts that the next major update to the Windows family is codenamed ‘Threshold.’ That name comes from an internal email from EVP Terry Myerson. The codename reportedly covers updates to Windows, Windows Phone and the Xbox One operating system, bringing even more commonality to the three OSes. The Threshold is title more than just a big abstraction — it’s actually borrowed from the original Halo game, following the Cortana codename the company adopted for its forthcoming personal assistant offering. Among the shared, cross-OS features are single, unified app store and tool sets designed to further entice developers to create applications for all three. Naturally, none of the higher-ups at Microsoft are confirming the existence of Threshold yet, but Foley’s projecting a spring 2015 release for the upgrades....

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Sears to convert old Auto Centers into… Data Centers?

Sears to convert old Auto Centers into… Data Centers?

You can buy pretty much anything from Sears, but we doubt it’s your first-choice destination for server capacity. That’s likely to change if Ubiquity Critical Environments, the company’s IT infrastructure arm, gets its way. The outfit is considering turning old Sears Auto Centers into server farms that’ll offer services to mission-critical IT projects for enterprise customers. Guess it’s high time we learned how to do our own oil changes....

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Microsoft reportedly close to unifying its app stores across Windows and Windows Phone

Microsoft reportedly close to unifying its app stores across Windows and Windows Phone

Microsoft is apparently far closer to bringing together its disparate stores than many thought. The company has reportedly already demoed a single app portal for both Windows and Windows Phone behind closed doors at its annual company meeting in Seattle, according to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley. One of her sources tells her that the new unified store will likely launch alongside the next iteration of Windows,version 8.1, although other sources were less certain on this. In any case, the gossip tallies with comments by Microsoft’s Terry Myerson last week, who said that he sees the unification of Microsoft’s platforms and APIs as a priority....

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Apple’s Most Important New Product This Month Won’t Be an iPhone

Apple’s Most Important New Product This Month Won’t Be an iPhone

Tomorrow, Apple will introduce the world to two new iPhones. One will look almost exactly like the current iPhone, the other will look slightly different. Apple will sell millions of each type. And both will hardly matter at all compared to iOS 7. There’s going to be a lot written about the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C (if that’s what they end up being called) tomorrow, both here and elsewhere. And when they ship, sometime later this month, there will likely be crowds of people mobbing Apple Stores around the world. But unless those people were paying close attention to Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference, they have no idea what they’re buying. An iPhone’s not just an iPhone, no more than a sandbox is a bunch of lumber nailed together as a square. It’s what’s inside, and how you interact with it, that counts. iPhones are just an iOS delivery system. And iOS 7, which will launch either tomorrow or concurrently with the the new handsets later this month, is the most important package Apple’s sent in a long, long time. The Consistent Kingdom The iPhone has been in a design holding pattern for the last several years. That’s not a knock; it’s just savvy marketing. The iPhone 4S looked exactly like the iPhone 4. The iPhone 5 looked different from those, but not so much that you couldn’t very clearly identify it as an iPhone. The iPhone 5S will look exactly like the iPhone 5. And so on. Apple keeps its iPhone hardware consistent because to do anything else would be insane. Six years after its release, it remains one of the most popular, pervasive consumer products of all time. If your product is universally loved and insanely profitable, there’s little incentive to radically alter it once a decade, much less every year. Until people stop buying iPhones, all Apple needs to do is make enough tweaks to feel current. That’s what it’s done. That consistency has carried across to iOS, as well, a platform that’s as much a reason for Apple’s success as any number of anodized, chamfered rectangles have been. Apple’s mobile operating system has gradually picked up functionality over the years, but always one very cautious step at a time. Almost every iOS iteration has looked similar enough to the one before it that you’d be forgiven for not noticing the changes. And for good reason! The hallmark of iOS is that it teaches users how to use a mobile phone. It’s intuitive, it looks like its real-life analogs. Your mom can figure it out without breaking a sweat. And then there’s iOS 7. Mobile Makeover iOS 7 is still in beta, so it’s too early—and too much a matter of personal taste—to use words like good or bad to describe it. One descriptive you can use without hesitation, though, is different. It looks different. It acts different....

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