ANDY IHNATKO: Android made a transformative leap forward last year with the release of version 4. But there was still one thing missing from Google’s menagerie of free mobile apps: a note taker. It was a baffling omission. One of the primary roles of a mobile device is to help you to capture and organize ideas and information as you make your way throughout space and time. Now, there’s Google Keep.
ANDY IHNATKO: It’s not wrong to refer to the Samsung Galaxy S4 — the sequel to the world’s first certified Cool Android Phone — as the “Galaxy S3 S.” It sure seems like an Apple-style odd-numbered-year update: “it’s the same phone as last year, except we upgraded the components.”
ANDY IHNATKO: Nice try, Google. You thought that by releasing a whole bunch of little news items about the company while the whole world was focused on the Papal enclave, you could slip something past us. Well, the “Pope-a-dope” strategy didn’t work: we noticed, and how.
Search recent columns
I’ve been testing and accumulating various kinds of storm preparedness-related tech items ever since 2011’s Hurricane Irene made that into an annual theme. After last fall’s storm and subsequent blackout, I acquired an interesting gadget from Eton Corp: the FRX3 multifunction radio.
ANDY IHNATKO: “The tech industry’s most fascinating company” is a title that changes hands frequently over the course of a year. This week, I’m handing it to Google.
ANDY IHNATKO: Just as the Pinto is inextricably linked to getting covered with gasoline and burning to death in a minor collision, so does the public link the Java browser plugin with systems getting hacked. High-profile systems. Apple was just the latest victim to make the national news. In a statement Tuesday, the company reported that a “small number of systems” used Apple were infected with malware that exploits a previously unknown hole in Java security. These Macs were infected after their owners visited a website for software developers.
ANDY IHNATKO: Will Apple make a watch? If it does, what could it do well, and would anyone want to wear it?
ANDY IHNATKO FIRST LOOK: It’s not a toaster-refrigerator, but a keg-refrigerator: Surface Pro is a natural fusion of two good ideas.
Are you still waffling about whether or not you should upgrade your Windows 7 PC to Windows 8? Well, don’t rush. You have the rest of the day before Windows 8’s early promotional pricing expires and the upgrade becomes two and a half to five times more expensive.
Research In Motion was saddled with two monumental problems: the name of the company, which was practically meaningless, and an OS still associated with old-fashioned 2005-era push-button devices that people only used because their corporate employers forced them to. Today, in a worldwide launch event, the company addressed both issues.
ANDY IHNATKO: Microsoft released Office 2013 today. Go ahead and sign up for a free 30-day preview of the suite. But don’t expect a huge, transformative revelation.
ANDY IHNATKO: Aereo.com streams TV through the Internet, and it does it simply and straightforwardly ... the way we’d want. Pay a low subscription fee for access to the service and you can watch live, broadcast television through a web browser on your computer or mobile device. It’s like having a digital antenna on your iPad. The service is only available in New York City right now, but it’s expanding into Chicago soon.
ANDY IHNATKO: I really could have used Facebook’s new Graph Search feature, which they announced at a special media event on Tuesday. I could have hit Facebook and searched for a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan that was liked by many of my local friends or even friends of my friends within the previous six months.
ANDY IHNATKO: The central strength of the Pebble watch is the concept of the smartwatch as a blank canvas. It’s not really designed to replace any of the functions of the iOS or Android phone in your pocket.
ANDY IHNATKO: I’m ... still not entirely sure what I saw on Monday night. CES 2013 kicked off with a keynote that (pre-keynote) was described by thousands of commentators as “Not presented by Microsoft’s CEO.” Which seemed completely on the nose.
Congress has recently amended the quarter-century-old Video Privacy Protection Act. In immediate and practical terms, it means that a video service like Netflix can now share your personal viewing history with an outside service (like Facebook) after getting your permission.
ANDY IHNATKO: Apple’s done well with iBooks, movies, and computers that sell for half the cost of a conventional notebook. What other turnabouts does Apple have in store for 2013 and beyond? Here’s what I’m hoping for.
IHNATKO: Comicraft, the producer of some of the finest display fonts available anywhere, celebrates New Year by putting all of their fonts on sale, for $20.13. Get it? 2013.
When I’m choosing tech products and services for a “best of the year” list, there’s only one valid criteria: the things that remained a big part of my life after the review was over and done with. Here are my favorites.
ANDY IHNATKO ON PERSONAL TECH: Before wrapping up all those tech goodies for under the tree, take a few minutes to make sure they’re ready to use. From software updates to apps to just making sure there is a full charge - there are lots of small, time-consuming steps you can take to make it a better gift out of the box.