Smart Home War, Google and New MasterCard Security

Smart Home War, Google and New MasterCard Security

Cortana Joins The Fight As The War for the Smartest Home Rages On

The smart home space is starting to get competitive, especially as Cortana (Microsoft) throws its hat into the ring against Alexa (Amazon) and Google Home. Expected to hit stores in Autumn 2017, Microsoft’s latest Cortana offering is near identical to that of its competitors (it even looks like a sleeker version of Alexa), just with minor tweaks for its own product range, e.g. Cortana will work across your Microsoft devices and Skype calls can be made through the home speaker.


The real point of interest is that whilst Microsoft, Google and Amazon have all planted their flags in this space, where are Apple and Siri? Might they be holding their entry back for their impending conference? Who knows. If they are, one thing they need to take care of is that any release of a home device doesn’t get overshadowed by the 10th Anniversary of the iPhone.

Google Never Stops

Google Maps – How Much Do You Trust It?

If you are in Norway, the answer is probably more than you should. A large group of tourists were sent on a wild goose chase for the Preikestolen Cliffs. Instead of Maps taking them to the scenic attraction, a large group of people were sent onto the wrong side of the fjord and into a small picturesque village, 19 miles away from where they wanted to be.

For this group, it was a happy accident, with some people even saying they wanted to buy property in the village because they loved it so much. But as we have seen with old fashioned sat navs, people trust their devices far too much and 19 miles is no small margin of error.


Chrome’s offline features

This one should be of particular interest to Londoners. With no wifi, or 10-30 seconds at each station after the phone finally connects, reading the news or doing anything on the web is nigh on impossible. There are already solutions to this, such as Pocket or Instapaper but as Chrome is already a featured download on many a smartphone, it provides a much more convenient solution.

The offline feature enables you to download websites, allowing you to view them at a later date, regardless of whether or not you have a signal. Alternatively, if you try to load a page and don’t have signal, you can set the page to download automatically as soon as you have a connection to the internet.

Sadly this feature is only available on Android devices. I can’t wait for this to make an iOS debut, but for now eBooks will have to suffice.


Fuchsia OS

Android is a phenomenal force, in Q3 2016 they had an 88% share of the market. Yet Google refuses to rest on its laurels and has begun work on a new operating system, whether this is pegged as a replacement or an alternative – it is too early to say. But if you are interested in taking a look at where Google sees the future of its smartphones, check out an early prototype of the design here.

Google Fixes the New Tab Page

For those of you who fixate on little details, the new tab page became an eyesore in a recent update, with the preview boxes and search bar sitting out of alignment. Thankfully, this has now been rectified. The problem was just a minor CSS issue to do with the box-sizing property, something that virtually anyone who knows anything about CSS could resolve.


Not the most exciting piece of news but it does go to show, it doesn’t matter how big you are in an industry, whether you are a thought leader or a novice, the little details matter if you want to keep your customers/users happy.

MasterCard Catches Up With ApplePay

Bank cards are still a crucial part of all of our lives yet the way we use them has evolved. Originally we used them with a signature, then a pin code and many now have no security at all with contactless (for limited sized purchases). The latest incarnation coming into effect is fingerprint recognition. Cards will be able to store two prints on them (both of which have to be yours and no one else’s) and when making purchases, you will have to scan your corresponding digit.

This is an interesting idea, and for those who only use contactless (and often forget their pin), this could be a lifesaver. However, this seems like a potentially bad idea. Fingerprints can be copied and people do like giving their cards to loved ones or trusted friends to make purchases on their behalf – which wouldn’t work with this new technology.

Stephen Collins