Thursday, 19 March 2015

The BBC has unveiled a new microcomputer as part of its 'Make It Digital' campaign to help students learn to code.

The Micro Bit will be available to secondary schools in the UK, and the BBC says enough will be available for every Year 7 student to have one. 

Similar to the Raspberry Pi, the computer is about the size of the credit card and can handle Linux operating systems. 

BBC says the "Micro Bit will allow kids to learn the basics of coding as a fundamental part of their education, placing it on par with other "basics" such as math and literacy." 

In the wake of the announcement of their Apple Watch smartwatch and fitness tracker, Apple has removed competing fitness devices from its stores.

Apple had previously offered the Jawbone Up, Nike+ FuelBand and The Mio. 

The new Apple Watch goes on pre-order April 10th, to ship on April 24th. The Apple Watch has a plethora of fitness features, and can track your steps, distance, heart rate and much more. 

Liz Dickinson, CEO and founder of Mio, said Apple notified them the Mio would be removed from stores a few months ago: "They said they brought in a new executive in the marketing area who wanted to rework branding for the stores, and to make the Apple brand more front and center and clean up and minimize the number of accessories," Dickinson said. There was no mention of the Apple Watch. 

Earlier this week, Apple expanded their public beta program to encompass iOS, beginning with iOS 8.3.

The beta will allow developers and fans to submit feedback on bugs in the operating system before it launches for the public. 

"For the first time ever, we are broadening the program to include the all-new iOS Beta. The feedback you have provided on the OS X Yosemite Beta continues to help us shape OS X, and we would like to offer you an invitation to the iOS 8.3 Beta," read the email sent to Apple fans who were testers of Mac OS X Yosemite. 

An iOS beta makes perfect sense for Apple as they look to avoid a launch as disastrous as iOS 8 was last year. The initial launch required fixes for Wi-Fi and other key features, and version 8.0.1 was so bad it even bricked some phones. 

What's coming in iOS 8.3? "The iOS 8.3 Beta includes improved performance, increased stability, bug fixes, and a redesigned Emoji keyboard. This release also provides additional language and country support for Siri: English (India, New Zealand), Danish (Denmark), Dutch (Netherlands), Portuguese (Brazil), Russian (Russia), Swedish (Sweden), Thai (Thailand), and Turkish (Turkey)." 

Among other big news revealed this week, Microsoft has also announced that it is trying out Windows 10 software that can effectively turn an Android device into a Windows device.

The company is testing the ROM with Xiaomi Mi 4 users and sources says "that it effectively overrides Android, turning the Xiaomi phone into a Windows 10 device complete with Microsoft services." 

Of course, the overall goal is to have the new software impress users so that they might move away from Google and towards Microsoft, which may be a hard task. Microsoft was quick to note that the software is not a dual-boot option, but a full ROM, similar to Cyanogen and other developers have used to push their operating system to existing devices. 

Says Microsoft: "As part of the Windows Insider Program, Microsoft will partner with Xiaomi to offer Windows 10 free downloads to a select group of Xiaomi Mi4 users. Xiaomi Mi4 users will get the ability to flash their phones with the new Windows 10 OS and provide feedback to Xiaomi and Microsoft on their experience. This partnership will allow Xiaomi and Microsoft to get direct user feedback and continue to improve the experience for China. Microsoft is thrilled to see Xiaomi embracing Windows 10 and offering this great value to their customers. We're excited to see the feedback we receive from this audience.

Xiaomi is a leading phone manufacturer in China undergoing significant global expansion. We are excited to partner with them in China and jointly gather feedback from Chinese users on their experience with Windows 10 to jointly collaborate on product and services development for the platform."

If there is to be global availability, that announcement will come over the summer with the launch of Windows 10.