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Xamarin for everyone

On March 18th, 2016, Microsoft’s acquisition of Xamarin officially closed.

We love C# and we want every developer to be able to take advantage of the power of .NET in every app, on every device. Being part of Microsoft makes it possible for us to do some incredible things, and today we are announcing several big changes to the way we ship our products.

Visual Studio now includes Xamarin
As of today, we are including Xamarin in Visual Studio at no extra cost.

Xamarin will be in every edition of Visual Studio, including the widely-available Visual Studio Community Edition, which is free for individual developers, open source projects, academic research, education, and small professional teams. Develop and publish native apps for iOS and Android with C# or F# from directly within Visual Studio with no limits on app size.

For developers on the Mac, Xamarin Studio is now available as a benefit of your Visual Studio Professional or Enterprise subscription. Developers can use the newly-created Xamarin Studio Community Edition for free.

To begin developing iOS and Android apps with the full power of Xamarin and C#, download Xamarin Studio or Xamarin for Visual Studio today.

We love open source
And we know you do too.

So we are announcing today that we have contributed the Mono Project to the .NET Foundation, including some previously-proprietary mobile-specific improvements to the Mono runtime. Mono will also be re-released under the MIT License, to enable an even broader set of uses for everyone. In addition, to help clarify users’ rights to Mono under Microsoft patents, Microsoft has issued a broad patent promise for Mono. Miguel has posted more details to the Mono Project blog.

These changes to Mono remove all barriers to adopting a modern, performant .NET runtime in any software product, embedded device, or game engine, and open the door to easily integrate C# with apps and games on iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows, as well as PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and any emerging platforms developers want to target in the future

But wait, there’s more!

In addition to these important steps, we are announcing today our commitment to open source the Xamarin SDKs for Android, iOS, and Mac under the MIT license in the coming months. This includes native API bindings and the basic command-line tools necessary to develop mobile apps. It also includes our popular cross-platform native UI toolkit, Xamarin.Forms.

With these changes, .NET is now open source and native on every single device, from mobile to desktop to cloud. This is a proud moment for all of us who have invested years into making .NET the best platform, and we know that this change will make it even easier for developers to invest their own time into building great software in C#.

We look forward to building a true open source community around Xamarin, and eagerly await the first pull requests.

Xamarin Insights is joining HockeyApp
Xamarin Insights delivers incredible value to mobile .NET developers by helping find and debug issues in your apps. Now we are ready to bring that experience to an even wider audience.

Over the next few months, Xamarin Insights will merge with HockeyApp bringing experiences that made Xamarin Insights so great into HockeyApp.

During this transition, current Xamarin Insights customers will be supported through existing contracts and Xamarin developers can still freely integrate Xamarin Insights into their apps. For more information, please see the FAQ.

Xamarin Test Cloud
This morning at the BUILD conference Scott Guthrie showed how Slack and Pinterest are using Xamarin Test Cloud and our 2,300-device test lab to make sure their apps work everywhere. We will continue to provide Xamarin Test Cloud as a standalone product, and we will be investing heavily in its future.

Xamarin University
On the Xamarin University front, we’re working with other teams within Microsoft to expand our content to cover mobile development with more Microsoft products. We’ve also launched a free self-guided class designed to get you up to speed on Xamarin quickly, and it even counts toward Xamarin Developer Certification! Start learning today.

To our customers
Our commitment to your success in mobile is stronger than ever. We want to continue to be your trusted partner, and you should hold us to the highest standards in the quality of our products and support.

If you have additional questions, visit our FAQ or reach out at hello@xamarin.com. We would love to hear from you.

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Saving Data – Myth Buster

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A data usage myth exists about “saving data”, this concept far beyond defeats logic, we can rather term it as a comforter of thoughts if at all anything.

There’s an increase in the number of people who believe that once you turn off ? the mobile data on your device that there is immediate saving benefit of using data. Now I have tried to understand this from various sides (1) of the consumer, (2) my own, (3) the truth (or rather logic).

Continue reading Saving Data – Myth Buster

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Quick Remote IT Support for your Tablet & Smartphone

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Are you frustrated by the fact that you cannot find your way around these new, savvy, complicated and fancy phones of today?

Are you the type of person that can only send/receive a sms or a call from these devices?

Do you have features activated on your phone and don’t know how to control or manage them with ease?

Do you have your “IT Guy” either at home or work and can’t get them to assist you when you need them to?

Don’t fret as Joxicraft is here to unstuck you from your phone problems be it Apple devices or Android devices big or small!

We will remotely control your phone while you watch us do all the handy work for you… Whether you at the airport waiting or before a big meeting and need to access information or during that big meeting, or a social gathering and just want to show off to your peers the kind of support you receive … We here for you

Starting from R350 an hour we will save you time and money… Please inquire within sales@joxicraft.co.za

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Samsung’s second Galaxy Gear may arrive running the company’s own Tizen OS

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It is being widely reported that, in addition to announcing a new flagship smartphone, Samsung will also be taking the wraps off of a second-generation smartwatch based around the original Galaxy Gear.

By themselves the reports are not unusual. Samsung has promised to do better with regards to their smartwatch product, saying that they will be working to correct the problems that plagued the original device. What is strange is that the report that started all of this speculation has said that Samsung will be avoiding Android is favour of something a bit more in-house – the company’s Tizen operating system.

Samsung is reportedly concerned that the Android OS isn’t quite as flexible as it needs to be in order to make the smartwatch work as intended and they are also looking to have more control over what the second Galaxy Gear is capable of doing. We’d assume this means that they want to make updating the device a simpler affair, in addition to other reasons.

The Galaxy Gear announcement is expected to take place at MWC next week, we’ll probably be able to put these rumours to rest then.

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Five Samsung smartphones to get KitKat updates this month

According to a leaked document purportedly originating at Samsung India, the Korean company is going to release Android 4.4 KitKat updates for five smartphones before the end of this month.
The handsets in question are the Galaxy S4 Mini, the Galaxy Grand 2 Duos, the Galaxy Mega 5.8 Duos, the Galaxy Mega 6.3, and the Galaxy Note 3 Neo.

 

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Microsoft Presses Ahead with Office for Android

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Prepare another entry into your File Of No Surprise: Microsoft is moving ahead with its efforts to bring the highly lucrative Office franchise to Android tablets.

According to The Verge, Microsoft is currently prepping a private beta of the new software. A sign-up page has been mostly taken offline since the news broke.

A full Office suite for Android tablets is roughly as surprising as San Francisco morning fog. Microsoft confirmed that it was building the native suite earlier this year, and rumor followed that the Android apps would beat a touch-first build of Office for Windows out of the gate.

To see Microsoft begin to ramp up testing is hardly surprising.

Office for iPad has been a material success for Microsoft. Despite some market doubt that the apps were too late to make an impact, or that users wouldn’t use them due to Office 365-related restrictions, Microsoft’s latest sally into iOS has gone well. Android may be no different.

The mystery that I can’t unravel is why touch Office for Windows tablets is so damned late.

The above is merely another plank in the current Microsoft effort to have its corporate focus be both mobile-first, and cloud-first. Office, of course, is now heavily based on OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service. What will be interesting to gauge is market response to Office for Android, measuring if it can match the prior response to the iOS suite. Microsoft saw 27 million downloads of its iOS Office apps in 46 days.

Microsoft declined to comment.

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Siri Will Soon Understand You a Whole Lot Better

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It all started at a small academic get-together in Whistler, British Columbia.

The topic was speech recognition, and whether a new and unproven approach to machine intelligence—something called deep learning—could help computers more effectively identify the spoken word. Microsoft funded the mini-conference, held just before Christmas 2009, and two of its researchers invited the world’s preeminent deep learning expert, the University of Toronto’s Geoff Hinton, to give a speech.

Hinton’s idea was that machine learning models could work a lot like neurons in the human brain. He wanted to build “neural networks” that could gradually assemble an understanding of spoken words as more and more of them arrived. Neural networks were hot in the 1980s, but by 2009, they hadn’t lived up to their potential.

At Whistler, the gathered speech researchers were polite about the idea, “but not that interested,” says Peter Lee, the head of Microsoft’s research arm. These researchers had already settled on their own algorithms. But Microsoft’s team felt that deep learning was worth a shot, so the company had a couple of engineers work with Hinton’s researchers and run some experiments with real data. The results were “stunning,” Lee remembers—a more than 25 percent improvement in accuracy. This, in a field where a 5 percent improvement is game-changing. “We published those results, then the world changed,” he says.

Now, nearly five years later, neural network algorithms are hitting the mainstream, making computers smarter in new and exciting ways. Google has used them to beef up Android’s voice recognition. IBM uses them. And, most remarkably, Microsoft uses neural networks as part of the Star-Trek-like Skype Translate, which translates what you say into another language almost instantly. People “were very skeptical at first,” Hinton says, “but our approach has now taken over.”

ONE BIG-NAME COMPANY HASN’T MADE THE JUMP: APPLE, WHOSE SIRI SOFTWARE IS DUE FOR AN UPGRADE

One big-name company, however, hasn’t made the jump: Apple, whose Siri software is due for an upgrade. Though Apple is famously secretive about its internal operations–and did not provide comment for this article–it seems that the company previously licensed voice recognition technology from Nuance—perhaps the best known speech recognition vendor. But those in the tight-knit community of artificial intelligence researchers believe this is about to change. It’s clear, they say, that Apple has formed its own speech recognition team and that a neural-net-boosted Siri is on the way.

Lee would know. Apple hired one of his top managers, Alex Acero, last year. Acero, now a senior director in Apple’s Siri group had put in nearly 20 years at Microsoft, researching speech technology. There he oversaw Li Deng and Dong Yu, the two Microsoft researcher who invited Geoff Hinton to that conference in British Columbia. Apple has also poached speech researchers from Nuance, including Siri Manager Gunnar Evermann. Another speech research hire: Arnab Ghoshal, a researcher from the University of Edinburgh.

“Apple is not hiring only in the managerial level, but hiring also people on the team-leading level and the researcher level,” says Abdel-rahman Mohamed, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto, who was courted by Apple. “They’re building a very strong team for speech recognition research.”

Ron Brachman, who oversees research at Yahoo and helped launch the project that originally gave rise to Siri, points out that Apple’s digital iPhone assistant depends on a lot more than just speech recognition. But Microsoft’s Peter Lee gives Apple six months to catch up to Microsoft and Google and start using neural nets, and he thinks this will significantly boost Siri’s talents. “All of the major players have switched over except for Apple Siri,” he says. “I think it’s just a matter of time.”

Cade Metz contributed reporting to this story.

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Apple Introduces iOS 8

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Last year, Apple revealed the biggest change to-date of iOS, the mobile operating system that many of us have been using for years. Now, the true evolution begins. Jony Ive and the iOS team have had plenty of time to listen to feedback and dig deeper into features introduced before Ive ever took control of software. And finally, iOS 8 is here.

We’ve been expecting a new Healthbook application, a broken out iTunes Radio app to stand on its own, and maybe even split-screen multitasking on the iPad. Will all these dreams come true?

Let’s find out together.

We’ll be updating this article as more and more is announced, so please refresh as the story is still developing.

A few big overviews they showed off first:

Notifications Center is quite a bit different. It includes a new interactive notifications feature to let you swipe down to reply immediately to a message, and that extends all the way out to the lockscreen. It looks a lot like the interactive notifications from OS X Mavericks.

You can also find your favorite contacts by double-tapping to multitask. This gives you quick access to the people you talk to the most.

In Safari, you can get to tab view by clicking the “Tab View” button in the top right corner on the iPad, which comes direct from the new Yosemite version of OS X.

Plus, there are new Mail features which let you use gestures to go directly from a message you’re composing to your inbox, by simply swiping down. This lets you check things out while you’re in the middle of a draft, and then you can pop right back in to the message you were drafting by tapping at the bottom of the screen.

QuickType is a new version of the keyboard in iOS 8. The keyboard finally supports keyword auto-suggestions to let you autofill quickly. It’s context-sensitive, so it offers up words based on what you’ve already typed.

Plus, it also knows who you’re talking to, which is crazy. By knowing who you’re talking to, it will send up predictions that are right for the type of conversation you have with that particular person. It makes a big difference if you’re texting with your boss or your boyfriend.

Continuity is a new part of Apple’s entire software ecosystem, extending beyond iOS to OS X Yosemite. The phone, iPad and computer will be aware of each other, and while you’re in the middle of a task, you can switch from one device to the next with a simple prompt.

iPhone 5s | Fly or Die

While composing an email on your computer, a small icon will come up on the lower left hand side of the iPhone. Swiping up, as you would to open up the camera quickly, you can get directly into that same email draft on your iPhone. The same extends from iPhone to Mac.

You could be composing a text message on your phone, and an Apple computer running Yosemite would automatically add an icon to the dock, prompting you to complete the message on the computer.

Perhaps the most exciting part is that Continuity extends to phone calls, meaning that you can have your phone plugged in on the other side of the house and pick up a phone call on your Mac, using it as a speakerphone. You can place calls from the Mac, too.

iMessage is the most used app on the iPhone, hands down. So they’ve spent some time working on the way we message each other.

With Group Messages, you can name the thread, add and remove people, and set Do Not Disturb on a per-person basis within a thread.

Apple has also added audio messages, which you can send by swiping left on a little beacon on the right of the typing window. You can also respond to a message in the notification center with an audio message simply by raising the phone to your ear. The same beacon offers video messaging and location sharing.

Most importantly, you can set up these audio messages and video messages to self destruct after a certain number of minutes, going head to head with Snapchat in an exciting way. Ephemerality is here. For good, it seems.

Enterprise is also a big focus for Apple, and so iOS has improved iCloud Drive, as well as Device Enrollment and even parts of the Mail app, which will now let you turn on VIP threads, rather than just assigning VIP status to contacts.

Health is something we knew that Apple would focus on, but we didn’t know that “Health” would be the actual name of the app. Just as expected, it’s a centralized place where many health apps can plug in on the back end so that users can have a single hub for all their health data and services.

On the backend, Apple is calling it HealthKit. But it’s not just developers who can build into HealthKit, but health providers and medical institutions.

Family Sharing is a new feature in iOS 8 that lets you sync up all the devices in a single family (must be tied to one credit card) to automatically share media, calendars, reminders, or find my friends. You can also locate people’s devices, which could come in handy for parents with forgetful kids. Or vice versa.

The most crucial part of iOS 8 Family Sharing is that it will help with children who rack up crazy bills are their parents accounts. Now, when a kid tries to make a purchase on iTunes or in the App Store, the parent will get a notification asking for permission. Problem solved.

Photos!

So far, Apple’s Photo Stream has only allowed for 1,000 photos to be stored at a time, requiring that at some point you back everything up to your Mac. Now Apple is offering storage for all your photos and videos in the cloud with access to them from any device, similar to the way that iTunes holds all your music and movies.

And not only do these devices sync edits, photos, and devices, but they have new Smart Editing features that let you do some pretty amazing edits to both Photos and Videos.

And of course, with more photos you need better search. Apple has added a more advanced search within the Photos app that includes auto-suggestions from more recently taken photos, recently viewed, etc.

More broadly, the Photos app generally looks quite different than it has, with more space between photos not unlike the look of Yosemite.

Siri is the closer for iOS 8, and it’s a pretty big one. You can now activate Siri without touching the phone, which I have actually been praying for since she arrived, by simply saying “Hey Siri.” Siri also now has Shazam integration, the ability to purchase content from iTunes, streaming voice recognition, and comes in 22 new dictation languages.

Developers:

There is a lot at the fingertips of developers this year. TouchID is being opened up to third-party developers, and keyboard builders are now allowed to submit to the App Store, meaning Swype may finally be available on the iPhone. They’re also providing APIs for Cameras which gives more manual controls to third-party apps.

And perhaps most exciting, HomeKit. HomeKit is going to be Apple’s smart home platform, letting developers build something central to iOS. Expect to see an even bigger boom in IoT equipment in the home. Once developers get cracking at this, with the help of Siri, you’ll be able to ask your phone to “Get ready for bed,” and simultaneously turn off the lights, turn down the temperature, etc.