Windows alternatives: These Linux distributions are perfect for those switching

Microsoft has stopped providing support for Windows 7 since mid-January 2020. The OS is still widespread. Today we introduce you to seven Linux distributions that could be an alternative (not only) for your Windows 7 installation. After a good ten years, Microsoft has stopped supporting the popular 7th version of its Windows operating system. Functional updates had not been available for a long time, but now there are no longer even the important security updates. Your reason for Windows 7 can be your reason for Linux At first glance, it seems incomprehensible that Windows 7 should still be installed somewhere in 2020. The fact is, however, that authorities in particular, but also many private users, still rely on the ancient system. In Berlin alone, for example, of the around 82,000 computers in senate and district administrations, police, fire departments, justice and citizens’ offices, only 70 to 75 percent have switched to Windows 10. In authorities this has a lot to do with the special software used. Manufacturers traditionally prefer to use an older version of the operating system than bleeding edge. And of course it also has to do with the age of the hardware used. Authorities share this rationale with many private users. A good calculator is an investment. It should last for a few years. At the same time, operating systems become more resource-hungry with each update. Updates reduce the working speed in the long run. It doesn’t help that every Windows 7 user has an update route that leads to a valid Windows 10 license at low cost. The hardware must be able to do it. The computers don’t even have to be ancient to cause problems. The author of these lines has just equipped a Samsung notebook from 2013 with Zorin OS because Windows 10 had become incredibly slow. And this Samsung notebook is still far too good to be e-waste. With Zorin OS, an Ubuntu derivative, i.e. a Linux operating system, it runs like new again. Linux is also suitable for the desktop. It’s leading the way on servers anyway. (Graphic: Stanislaw Mikulski / Shutterstock) Older hardware in particular benefits from Linux The advantage of using a Linux on an older device is the hardware support. While brand new systems often have problems with Linux because the manufacturers don’t want to spend money on developing drivers, committed community developers have often done so for older hardware. There are also reasons for die-hard Windows users to rely on a Linux OS at least with individual devices. Because everyone has some older device in the corner. You will be amazed at the performance that the discarded piece is still capable of as soon as it is started under Linux. The vast variety of Linux distros There is an almost unmanageable variety of Linux distributions. The Distrowatch website is practically the only way to keep track of things. In addition to the ten main distributions, it also lists the countless derivatives. The variants based on one of the main distributions in particular are often put together in a very target-oriented manner and are suitable for special purposes. This could be container support in the cloud or the drive for devices in the Internet of Things. There are also the entry-level and switchover derivatives, which pursue the goal of attracting new desktop users to a Linux variant. They are characterized by the fact that they reduce the complexity of the Linux system and optimize it for the needs of desktop users. Such distributions make a lot of preliminary decisions, but at the end of the day they always give users the opportunity to go deeper and change Linux the way they want. We want to show you some Linux distributions that are particularly suitable for getting started with or switching to the free operating system. You don’t even have to install them on your computer to try out the individual suggestions. The non-binding nature of the Linux live system Rather, it is sufficient to boot it from a USB stick or CD / DVD as a so-called live system. They run a little slower, but do not change anything about your installation. If you end the session and remove the USB stick, the next time you start your previous operating system as if nothing had happened. If you then decide to use it permanently, you can start the installation from the same medium as the live system. In the vast majority of cases, a parallel installation to an existing Windows is possible, albeit unnecessarily. After all, you just want to replace your Windows with something more powerful.

Work more productively with workspace tools

Anyone who works a lot with cloud-based apps in the browser will eventually run into a problem: The actually productive and convenient tools are supplemented by tabs with cat videos and other private items. In order to keep order and thus focus, there are workspace tools that bring cloud services under one roof. Workspace tools can be thought of as virtual offices in which collaboration apps, file sharing, project management and messengers can be integrated. Most of the following tools already bring the connection to a lot of services, for example all from Google, Slack, Skype and many more. Others, on the other hand, also allow the integration of their own services. Because basically workspace tools work like closed browser containers. They bring a lot of convenience functions and features and help you to focus on your project, your startup or the next big thing. station The free station brings a lot of features and supports numerous services. In the spirit of the ring poem from Lord of the Rings, Station advertises that it is an app to subjugate them, to find everyone, to drive them into darkness (dark mode) and to bind them forever. Like the other apps presented here, Station allows you to integrate exactly the services you need to work. After the installation, Station suggests you the most popular services, which include G Suite, i.e. Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs or Hangouts, as well as Dropbox, Slack, Trello, Asana, GitHub and the popular messengers. Each service then appears as an icon on the left-hand side and has to be confirmed once with your password. Just like it works in the browser. Station offers a very tidy surface in material design without wild flourishes and allows the “installation” of more than 670 cloud services . From collaboration and communication tools to CRM systems or blog platforms, everything that works cloud-based is included. You can also include your own URL and thus, for example, run services from your own NAS with web server if you want. For those who are easily distracted, the workspace tool has a so-called “focus mode” that switches off all notifications at the push of a button and then no longer informs you about incoming mails or messages. The “Boosted Apps” are also very practical, as they allow you to search for files across all apps, for example. What is also helpful is the multi-account function. With that you can log into several Google accounts at the same time, which only works with a lot of tricks in the browser. In order to solve the problem of the confusion of cloud apps in browser tabs, Station summarizes them in a kind of task manager. This actually makes it very easy to navigate between the apps. The manufacturer also advertises that apps automatically “sleep” in the background if they are not used for a certain period of time, but browsers are now doing that too. If you want to try Station, you can download the app here for Windows, Mac or Linux . And in contrast to most other providers, Station is completely free with all its features. The company wants to earn money with support for Enterprises starting in 2020, and individuals can continue to use the app free of charge. Franz Franz is aimed at companies and professionals. The workspace tool with the pithy name Franz comes from Vienna and basically does the same thing as Station: It combines web services under one roof, allows you to log into several accounts of a provider at the same time and has a tidy interface. The library of supported services is much smaller, however, and in general Franz is aimed more at professionals and companies. In the free version, only three services can be installed and many helpful features are only available in the subscription model. In the professional version, Franz costs 5.99 euros per month and user, but then offers the option of creating individual workspaces within the app. This has the advantage that you can, for example, create a workspace for each customer with exactly the apps that you use when working with them. This again increases the clarity and an integrated to-do list on the right edge of the screen is useful if you are not already using an external service or a Kanban board. The integration of your own services, which are not supported by Franz out of the box, is also only available in the Professional package, but you also get a team management function and can add as many cloud-based services as you want. The enterprise version for 14.99 euros per month and user, on the other hand, is aimed more at companies that want to offer their employees a tailor-made version of Franz with a company logo and preinstalled services as well as Active Directory or LDAP. Here you can take a look at Franz and download it for Windows, Mac or Linux and here you can find information about the API to integrate your own services into Franz. Shift Shift convinces with the amount of supported apps . Shift scores with a very powerful library of apps and extensions * and makes “installation” very easy, just like the other workspace tools. Shift clearly focuses on companies and teams and is basically a demo limited to two accounts in the free basic package. In the advanced version for US $ 99.99 per year, however, you benefit from the integration of all services, a comprehensive search and a very special treat: the integration of Chrome extensions. With these and the very large app support, Shift can be designed very individually, even if it has to be exotic CRM, HR services or e-learning platforms. The summary of all notifications under an icon at the top of the app in the generally very clean interface is also very helpful. So if you take your virtual workplace seriously and want to expand it with numerous expansion options without compromise, you will find it at Shift. Incidentally, team prices are only possible on request from customer support. You can try the app on all common operating systems here. * Rambox With a bit of code skills, Rambox allows the integration of individually designed services. Last but not least, we want to introduce you to Rambox. The app is aimed more at people who want to lend a hand and tinker with their workspace tool with a code editor. In the Community Edition, Rambox is therefore free, brings more than 100 apps and can be supplemented with more from GitHub. The tool then allows the services to be customized with CSS or JavaScript. A bit like when you edit the source code live with the developer tools from Google Chrome. In the pro version for four dollars a month or a one-off 144 dollars, Rambox becomes an individual tool with very interesting features. In addition to cosmetic changes, an ad blocker is then integrated and the cloud-based services can be displayed as a mobile version or with other user agents, i.e. browsers and devices. You can also set a focus working time during which you will not be disturbed by notifications. And if you want to run every single one of the more than 600 applications via its own proxy, then you can do that with Rambox Pro. Visually, Rambox is a little less stylish than the other workspace tools, but it is a huge sandpit for experimentation. The app is definitely aimed at hobbyists, who can then assemble everything exactly as desired. Rambox is available for Windows, Mac and Linux at this link. The developers are still working on an enterprise version. Which workspace tool is right for me? There are numerous other apps that reproduce the basically simple principle of workspace tools similar to the ones presented here. Ultimately, it is important which features you need and whether you work alone on one or on several devices, equip a team or want the freedom to develop your own. In any case, workplace tools ensure more focus, productivity and overview. Just try out which one is best for you and which one supports your most important apps. And then decide whether simple, free apps are enough for you or you need more features and support in the subscription model.

Perfect for on the go: the best apps for developers

Beginners, full-time programmers or hobby coders: These apps are perfect for developers and those who want to become one. For learning, writing or pushing code. Be it on Youtube or on one of thousands of websites: There are countless tutorials and webinars on the Internet. Also for programming. But you can’t really integrate them all into everyday life. The following apps will help you develop every day. Learn to program and train Py  ( Android , iOS) Py has free courses for Swift, Python, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and more. In the app you have to write small programs yourself or solve puzzles. If you have successfully completed a course, points are awarded and you gradually reach higher levels. This increases motivation and is perfect for beginners. Py is available for Android and iOS . Programming Hub  (Android, iOS) The Android app Programming Hub has not received several awards for nothing. Including “Editor’s Choice” and “Best of the Best 2017” from Google Play. The reasons for this include over 5,000 code examples, over 20 courses and a compiler that is also integrated in the app. In addition to Java, C ++, JavaScript, HTML, Python and Swift, you can learn ten other programming languages ​​with the app. The app is also available in German. Mimo  (Android, iOS) Another excellent app is Mimo from a Viennese company. At the beginning, among other things, you will be asked about your learning goal: developing projects such as apps or websites, learning a programming language or advancing your career. You have to further specify your learning goal. Available projects are websites, games, apps or hacking. At the end of the setup, the app creates a personal learning plan based on the selection. Another special feature is the availability of a web app. In addition to the free basic mode, in which you are very limited, there is a premium model that can be concluded annually or monthly. Depending on which you pay 4.99 euros or 9.99 euros per month. The app is currently only available in English. Available languages ​​and libraries: CSS, HTML, JavaScript, Swift, Kotlin, Ruby, SQL, Python, Java, PHP, C #, R, C ++, React Code editors for your pocket Got an idea in the subway and want to quickly write a few lines of code? Or have you got the Smart Keyboard for your iPad and would like to program with it? This is not a problem as there are mobile code editors themselves. Here are a few good examples. Droidedit  (Android) Droidedit is a compact and initially free app for Android devices. Syntax highlighting is supported for almost all major languages: from Java to Python, from C to JavaScript. HTML is also possible – even with a preview in the browser. The affordable Pro version even includes FTP and SFTP. Coda  (iOS, Mac) In addition to a desktop version for the Mac, Coda also has an iOS app . Even if the app is relatively expensive at just under 28 US dollars, many features are promised. Including support for many programming languages ​​as well as SFTP, FTP, Amazon S3 and more. In addition to an SSH terminal, there is also a preview for your code. In combination with a Mac, you can call up a preview of what you are developing on the laptop on your iOS device. The app convinces numerous users and despite the higher price, it received a rating of 4.7 in the app store (as of March 2019). Codeanywhere (Android, iOS, web app)   Codeanywhere is available as a web app and for the iOS and Android systems. (Graphic: Codeanywhere) The mobile IDE Codeanywhere comes with a wide range of functions for iOS and Android at no cost. In addition to the code editor, there is also an SSH terminal and support for Git. Syntax highlighting is possible for over 100 programming languages ​​and auto-completion is also available, at least for some important languages. This includes HTML, XML, CSS, JavaScript, Python and PHP. A connection with Dropbox, Onedrive, Google Drive and others is also possible. An FTP and SFTP client is also on board. However, the app struggles with numerous problems on iOS and has accordingly received poor ratings. Koder (iOS) The much better Koder app is recommended as a free alternative to Codeanywhere on iOS . In addition to numerous typical features such as syntax highlighting of over 80 languages, an SSH client, FTP and SFTP support and a version for the iPad that also supports multitasking, Koder Codeanywhere is in no way inferior on paper. The app can also edit files from the next app in the list – the Git client Working Copy – using drag and drop. Other popular code editors at a glance: Codex  (free for iPhone and iPad):  Powerful with numerous IDE features and syntax highlighting for over 150 languages To Writer ( free or 5.49 euros for Android): HTML editor with support for CSS, JavaScript, Latex and the Pro version with autocompletion for PHP and SQL Quick-Edit (free for Android): Optimized for smartphones and tablets with all common features Git clients for smartphones Working Copy (iOS) Really good Git clients are unfortunately rare for smartphones. Apple users can therefore count themselves lucky that with  Working Copy they can use a really good and also (for the most part) free app. However, in order to activate features like pushing a commit, a purchase must be made in the app. Pocket Git (Android) The paid Android app Pocket Git comes with a clean interface. (Graphic: André Restivo) Especially with Android, the selection of Git clients is pretty rare. The best alternative is probably the paid app  Pocket Git . It comes with a clean interface and offers all the important features you need to quickly make small changes to the repository or to view the latest commit of your colleague. Terminus: An SSH and Telnet client with bash The Terminus app: More than just a simple SSH client. (Graphic: Crystalnix) Terminus is an SSH and Telnet client for Android and iOS – the putty for smartphones, so to speak. The app offers the most important features free of charge. Including the local Unix shell Bash or a desktop version for Windows, Mac and Linux. However, some pro features cost around $ 30 annually. This enables tabs in the terminal, fingerprint protection, an SFTP client or synchronization between multiple devices, for example. GitHub mobile apps GitHub Mobile GitHub Mobile is of course the most obvious solution for interacting with GitHub while on the go. Announced at the GitHub Universe developer conference last year , the official GitHub app for Android , iOS and ipadOS has been available since March. Developers can use it to comment on, check and edit code on their mobile devices – regardless of whether they are smartphones or tablets – and react to feedback and problem reports. The app synchronizes with the website so that developers can seamlessly continue the work they have started on the mobile device on the website. GitHub wants the app to be understood as an extension of the website. More GitHub apps But external providers also offer apps for accessing your GitHub profiles and repositories. One example would be GitPoint, a free, openly licensed app built with React Native with a solid user interface for Android and iOS . Via GitPoint you can access your GitHub profile and manage notifications, issues and pull requests. GitHawk is another option for iOS and ipadOS with a similar range of functions, which, similar to GitHub Mobile, even offers emoji reactions. Apple users who can manage GitHub issues via a mobile app could take a look at GitShot throw, the app is available for 6.99 euros for iOS and ipadOS. If you like it even more reduced and just want a ping for new notifications, Brigitte is the right companion. And the competition? There are also apps for BitBucket and GitLab users to manage your projects on the go. For example GitLabControl for iOS and ipadOS. For BitBucket users, BitBasket for Android and iOS / ipadOS remains an option, but the app does not appear to be recommended in view of the 1 and 2 star ratings.

Contact tracing API and Face ID for masks: Corona update iOS 13.5 is official

Apple has officially released the iOS 13.5 update due to the corona crisis. This includes, for example, the interface required for tracing apps. Tracing apps, which could be used to monitor possible chains of Covid-19 infection, are considered to be an effective means of preventing the virus from spreading further in the corona crisis. So far, the publication of such an app, the use of which is also advocated by Health Minister Jens Spahn, has failed due to a missing interface in the mobile operating systems of Google and Apple. The iPhone company has now finished the Contact Tracing API – and is distributing the corresponding update. iOS 13.5 and iPadOS 13.5 ready After the Golden Master version of the update iOS 5.13, in which the API is included only on Monday released for developers was, it is now officially rolled out. The same goes for iPadOS 13.5. In addition to the API, Apple also delivers new features for Face ID and Facetime with iOS 13.5 – also due to the corona crisis. In iOS 13.5 you can find the new Covid-19 contact protocol option in the settings under data protection and there under health. The function is deactivated by default, it can only be activated if an authorized app is activated for it. Apple explains how it works In the accompanying statement from Apple it says that the iPhone uses Bluetooth and sends randomly generated IDs in the vicinity. The device also collects the same ID from devices of other users. This allows you to anonymously see which user was in contact with whom. The ID should be automatically deleted after 14 days. How the ID is evaluated and the notification in the event of a corona infection is in the hands of the national tracing apps. In addition to the interface, Apple also brings an already announced Face ID function for mask wearers with iOS 13.5. In this case, the switch to entering the passcode should take place faster than before. This also applies to applications such as the App Store, which rely on authentication via Face ID. Another innovation concerns Facetime calls in conference mode. Here, the size of the video images is no longer automatically changed when a participant speaks. In addition, minor bugs, such as in the mail app on the iPad, have been eliminated.

Android Studio 4.0 brings many new functions, especially for app design

Google has released Android Studio 4.0. The new version of the most important tool for Android developers brings a whole host of new features that make app design easier. Google usually presents new versions of its Android development environment for Google I / O, the important developer conference of the Californian group. Since there will be no I / O this year due to the corona pandemic , Google has decided to publish the update almost silently. The Android Studio 4.0 is here. (Screenshot: t3n) Android Studio 4.0 strengthens design skills But that has it all. Unlike last year’s version 3.5 , which, under the influence of Project Marble, experienced stability improvements and bug fixes, Android Studio 4.0 brings a variety of new and, above all, useful functions. Android Studio 4.0 now supports the design of apps better than before. The new Motion Editor enables complex animations to be created using click and drag, i.e. in a visual way. Previously, animations were only possible by manually editing the underlying XML files. The Motion Editor is a quantum leap there. With the improved Layout Inspector, designs can be debugged in real time. The use should be more intuitive than before. With the layout validation a tool is available that enables developers to compare and optimize their user interfaces across different screen resolutions. ARCore, Google’s 3D implementation with augmented reality, is also supported, so that the development of AR applications is also easier. Visual design with the layout editor. (Screenshot: t3n) The updated text editor supports syntax highlighting, code completion and error checking in Proguard rules files. In addition, Android Studio 4.0 now includes live templates for Kotlin classes. Significant improvements under the hood Google has also made significant changes under the hood. Android Studio 4.0 should lead to optimized, smaller apps. The APK editor allows you to look into the APK and make optimizations, even if the specific APK was not created with Android Studio. Google has updated the IntelliJ platform to version 2019.3, which, among other things, should lead to better performance. The build analyzer is intended to accelerate the build process and point out any weaknesses. Google gives a complete overview of all new and improved features on the project page for Android Studio 4.0 . Developers experience compatibility issues On the project page you can download Android Studio 4.0 for the operating systems Windows, macOS, Linux and Chrome OS. If you have already installed a previous version, you can also initiate the update process within the application. First developers criticize that not all Kotlin, Flutter and Dart plugins work with the new version. Before an update, you should check whether this can be relevant to your projects.

Adobe is bringing the long-announced Photoshop Camera for iOS and Android to the app stores

The Photoshop Camera smartphone app for iOS and Android, announced last November, is now available. Adobe’s Marketing is positioning the free camera app functionally as an alternative to the main camera. Photoactive social media enthusiasts should be interested in the latest app from Adobe . With Photoshop Camera * , which the image processing specialist makes available for both Android and iOS, Adobe joins the various providers of photo apps with live filters and effects. Photoshop Camera relies on Sensei AI for live filter effects Photoshop Camera is an app that – like many others – can apply live filters and effects to existing photos in your gallery. It is also possible to select the effects before pressing the shutter release and see the potential end result through the viewfinder. This can potentially save Instagramers time. It may also help with the choice of perspective if the final effect filter can be assessed well in advance. Photoshop Camera in action. (Image: Adobe) According to Adobe, Photoshop Camera uses the in-house AI Sensei to sensibly place the live effects or to improve the recordings in general. Contrary to what the advertising suggests, the effects are not automatically applied to images, for example in the style of an intelligent automatic. Rather, the live filters and effects sit in a classic row under the shutter button and wait to be selected by the user. Adobe calls the effect filters lenses. In principle, anyone can develop such lenses. To get started, Adobe developed some weird effects in collaboration with artist Billie Eilish. There are also effects with more or less descriptive names such as portrait, pop art, spectrum, food, landscape, blue sky or daydream, each of which comes in several variants. The stock of so-called lenses is expected to increase week by week. Photoshop Camera in action. (Image: Adobe) First tests: The oho effect does not occur, but the app is always useful In the first attempts we were able to find that the AI ​​can actually produce good results with the live application of the supplied effects. You can fine-tune the respective lenses by individually improving the determining parameters such as exposure, shadows, sharpness of detail. Unfortunately, Photoshop Camera only offers a very imprecise scale that is controlled by swiping across the entire screen and hardly allows filigree gradations. In the end, Photoshop Camera is just one effect filter app among many – there are dozens of similar apps, especially for iOS. Advantages of Adobe’s app are that it is free and does not have any major weaknesses compared to the competition. You need an Adobe ID to use it. But it’s free. App free of charge, CC storage space can be purchased optionally The pictures will be saved in your photo gallery on the device. If you want, you can rent 20 gigabytes of storage space in the Creative Cloud via in-app purchase. That costs 1.99 euros a month. If you want to use the free Google Photos to back up the photos from Photoshop Camera, you have to remember to add the folder of the same name in the settings for backup and sync. Small downer for Android users: the app does not work with all smartphones. Therefore, you may not find them in the Play Store from your devices. From our test pool, for example, the Xiaomi devices and the pixels from Google refuse to work. Oneplus smartphones, on the other hand, find the app.

Feature offensive: Dropbox brings password management, computer backup, data safe and more

The popular cloud storage service Dropbox is further diversifying its offering. In the future, the service will save passwords and the data in the most important folders on your computers at no additional cost. We already reported in this post that Dropbox is working on a solution for password management . An invitation-only app called Dropbox Passwords was discovered in Google’s Play Store. This should secure existing passwords and generate secure new ones. There was no official statement. Dropbox expands its offering to include password management, data vaults and computer backups It is now clear that Dropbox will actually take the next step towards a full office solution. For its “Dropbox Plus” offer, the provider is introducing the “Dropbox Passwords” password manager. It is also available as a separate app for mobile devices and is intended to keep the passwords, which are saved with zero-knowledge encryption , synchronized across all devices. Manage passwords. (Image: Dropbox) In addition, users receive a specially protected area, the so-called data safe. Here they should be able to file important documents such as birth certificates or the like carefree. The data safe is additionally protected with a six-digit PIN. Users can grant third parties access to the data safe. Data vault. (Image: Dropbox) In addition, Dropbox wants to save your personal standard folders desktop, documents and downloads in the cloud in the future. Up until now, backing up folders outside the Dropbox directory was only possible with tricks. Dropbox describes this function as “Secure your PC”. Computer backup. (Screenshot: t3n) All of the features mentioned are currently still in beta status and are included in the “Dropbox Plus” tariff. Computer backup is also available in the Basic and Professional tariffs. The rollout for all users can take a few weeks. We were already able to use the backup in the editorial office. The Passwords smartphone app is still available as invite-only in the Play Store. Integration of electronic signatures and app centers for professional users For professional Dropbox use in distributed teams, Dropbox integrates the electronic signature solution from Hellosign into its own cloud. The aim is to enable a digital signature workflow that can take place entirely within the Dropbox environment. Important contracts could be created, drawn and saved without leaving the Dropbox environment. The Hellosign integration is announced as generally available in July 2020. The app center. (Image: Dropbox) The App Center is another new solution for distributed teams. Dropbox wants to bring together all the tools that can be integrated into its own solution, such as Slack or Zoom. You can then easily link your own Dropbox to these services using the new app center. Before it is generally available, Dropbox wants to test the App Center extensively with a group of beta users and a limited number of linkable services. Dropbox Family: Up to 6 people with shared and separate storage areas Family. (Image: Dropbox) For home users, Dropbox will be launching a family account in the coming weeks and months. This should bring drop boxes for up to six people, some of which can be used personally, some shared. For example, the common area could be used to share family photos or other common documents. Dropbox Family should be billed uniformly. The provider has not yet announced prices.

Microsoft Office first: Google brings Windows apps to Chromebooks

Together with the software company Parallels, Google brings native Microsoft Office and other Windows legacy applications to Chromebooks. First, companies should benefit from the partnership. Android apps have been installed on Chromebooks for years, and Linux apps on some devices . Windows applications could only be executed via emulation. According to Google, that will change in the course of September and make Chromebooks more attractive for some companies. According to Google, Windows apps for Chromebooks are due to Corona So far, Microsoft’s Office applications can be used on Chromebooks via Android apps, web applications such as Microsoft 365 or alternatives from competitors such as Google Docs in the browser or Libre Office as a Linux application. With Parallels, a full office suite for Windows is coming to Chromebooks this fall. According to Google, Parallels Desktop is natively integrated with Chrome OS. This is intended to improve performance and enable the offline use of Windows applications on Chromebooks. As the reason for the timing of the announcement, Google cites the corona crisis, which accelerates working in the home office so much that the time is ripe. In the USA, due to the corona situation, a 109 percent year-on-year growth in sales was achieved in the first quarter of 2020, according to Google . In the enterprise sector, the increase was around 155 percent. Chromebooks with Windows Apps – More Than Office Applications? Through the integration of Parallels into Chrome OS, other Windows applications should find their way into Google’s operating system in addition to Microsoft’s Office suite. Neither Google nor Parallels mention many details about the implementation, but Google promises to provide more information in the coming months. It can be assumed that Google will bring Parallels Desktop to Chrome OS devices for private customers after the launch in Enterprise Chromebooks .

App development: No, you probably don’t need artificial intelligence

Does a lot help a lot? No, at least not in app development. Because software doesn’t always have to be complex to offer a good user experience. AI and machine learning are two omnipresent buzzwords. In many places people are looking for more or less meaningful application possibilities or at least talk about where potential lies dormant. But how necessary is artificial intelligence when it comes to a good user experience with apps , really? How do apps actually work? In order to answer this question, it is helpful to look behind the facade of the front end, i.e. the user interface. Apps are actually data collecting machines that fill a database – but nothing more: every click and every input is a specific command that, regardless of whether it is a mobile game or an app for language learning, is in the background in a record is transformed. As long as this data is not processed further, nothing happens to it. So that something can emerge from this, they have to be processed according to a certain logic, for example counted. This is the prerequisite for being able to set different parts of the database in relation to one another, i.e. an algorithm is created that works according to the if / then principle, for example. Specifically: When the app is opened for the first time, information A appears; if the app has already been opened five times, information B. So, based on the existing logic, firmly defined rules apply. The complexity can be increased here at will, with various dependencies and conditions, and possibly even continuously expanded to include feedback in the form of additional data. The crucial point at this point is that any processing of the available data by the algorithms must always be specified by a person and programmed accordingly in the system. Each individual usage path must have been thought out and created in advance. So far, so understandable. If we now talk about AI and machine learning in the next step, then it is about the system working with the available data and the specified algorithms and independently recognizing patterns within the results that were not specified by humans. Through appropriate training, the algorithm must learn which patterns it should look for. That’s the stuff scifi scripts are made of. For something like this to work, you need sufficient data, technical knowledge, training and tests – in short: a lot of resources. If they are actually available, wonderful application scenarios can arise. For example, in digital image recognition, in which the software recognizes better and better over time what is shown; this is particularly useful in e-commerce. AI is also used in machine manufacturing, for example in the area of ​​predictive maintenance, in order to prevent wear and tear on machines before an expensive breakdown occurs. If the resources required for the complex programming are not available, this results in a not fully developed solution, which in the worst case even has errors that lead to problems in operation. Programming without the use of AI is of course not child’s play either. The height of fall is higher due to the increased effort. What is this excursion into the basics of app programming? It shows that it is not necessary to use high-end technology everywhere in order to offer a good user experience. There is also “interaction” without AI! To the outside world, and above all to the untrained eye, an app can appear to be intelligent, to learn over time or to interact with users. Most of the time this is not the case! A little clearer: If a lifestyle app is opened early in the morning, a “Good morning!” Appears and a message that a walk would be a good way to wake up. If the advice is not adopted, it disappears at a certain point. It is the same when an app is designed for progress, as is the case with fitness apps or programs for learning a language. If the app is not used for a certain period of time, the goals will be adjusted because your fitness level or vocabulary may have changed. In these two examples, the user gets the impression of an interaction because the app “reacts” to the individual use. However, the functionality is not based on any artificial intelligence, but on the in-depth knowledge of the app developers about the needs of the users and the correspondingly created and simple time- or count-based algorithms. It makes sense to combine your own ideas from the development team with user feedback. In addition to explicit evaluations made in an app, feedback also means activity or inactivity in some areas of the app. This allows the user interest to be derived very precisely. So: to quickly test prototypes (for example in A / B tests), to improve them, and then to roll out the new functions widely. The result is an app that incorporates the needs of the user and – if desired – also includes interactive and responsive elements. This should show that a good user experience is not created solely by the technology used, but rather by making the best possible use of the resources available. Balance between the possible and the sensible When developing apps, it is always about finding a balance between technical finesse and user wishes. It can certainly make sense to adapt and implement new technologies in order not to lose touch with developments. The top priority should then always be the noticeable benefit for the user. From a purely technical point of view, for example, it is possible to map loyalty points via the blockchain. But is that noticeably easier for users in daily handling and does it improve the user experience positively? Of course it depends on the specifics, but probably not. Instead of a technical sophistication that could not be implemented perfectly due to insufficient resources and then possibly not work properly, one should rather fall back on technically less complex, but functioning and well-developed systematics. Then apps that are “only” based on the natural intelligence of the developer teams can offer an outstanding user experience.

Google Photos with a major redesign, new logo and map view

Google has given its photo management app a redesign. Like Google Maps recently, the new version of Google Photos has received a new logo in addition to new functions. Five years after announcing Google Photos, the search engine giant is giving its popular image service a major update. According to the company, the focus of the new version is on new functions that should help to relive personal memories. According to Google, Google Photos is used by a billion people every month Google Photos Update: New look for old photos According to Google , the refreshed look of the image management tool provides new possibilities for app navigation on iOS and Android. The redesign makes it possible, among other things, to better highlight one’s own favorite pictures from the past, explains the company. The new app for the two major mobile platforms finally brings a long-desired function with a map view, with which photos and videos can be explored according to their locations. The new version of the Photos app is divided into three tabs – Photos, Search and Library. The search is at the center of the new application, according to Google. In the Photos tab , all photos and videos are displayed, but they are now presented in larger thumbnails with less white space. Videos are automatically played according to Google. At the top there is also a larger “memory carousel”. As photo libraries continue to grow, a search function becomes more and more important. Therefore, Google puts the search more in the foreground in order to enable quick access to the “most important people, places and things”. There is also a new interactive map view. Google Photos app with a new map view. (Image: Google) The most important contact points for the photo library are collected in the new Library tab. This includes albums, favorites, a recycle bin, as well as the archive and more, according to Google. If you are in the USA, the EU or Canada, you also have access to the print store, where you can have photo books and more printed. The Google Photos app comes with a pimped up reminders function. (Image: Google) Since Google is a big fan of messaging apps – such a function is even built into Maps – the company is also building one in its photo app. A tap on the speech bubble in the upper area of ​​the app opens a list of released photos including all conversations that may have been held about them. The new Google Photos logo The new Google Photos logo. (GIF: Google) To illustrate the further development of the service, Google has also refreshed the logo. Originally, the Google Photos app icon was supposed to be modeled on a pinwheel as a reference to childhood and nostalgia. With the redesign, it was refreshed and simplified, explains the company. The familiar shape of the wind turbine should be retained. According to Google, the new version of the Google Photos app will be released for Android and iOS in the course of next week.