After 20 Years of Simple, Google’s Home Page is About to Change

Hard to believe it has been only 20 years since Google was founded.

What on earth did we do before being able to search Google for just about anything imaginable?

Since the beginning Google’s homepage has been as simple as can be, basically a web page with a Google logo and a search bar. The look and feel of the Google home page has not changed in over 20 years. That is all about to change.

Google will soon be making some changes to its home page – including adding a news -feed to its previously minimalistic look and feel.

As with most tech companies, Google is dipping its toe in the “advanced machine learning algorithms” that will become commonplace in the very near future. The home page will use these algorithms to help customize the feeds supplied to it.

You will soon see all sorts of different things at the Google home page including trending news, sports highlights, videos, stories, etc. It will contain information that is not only of interest to you, the Google user, but also what is trending to you locally and around the world.

Even though Google is not considered a “news site”, it does want to be your source for news – and it will be customizing that news for you showing you the exact types of stories and content that interest you.    Since Google does collect data on just about everything you do, it knows you pretty well what you like and don’t like, and that helps personalize what the page will serve up for you.

No exact time frame has been set for rolling out this new format for desktop users, but Android and iOS users are already seeing the changes on their mobile devices.

Some users may find it difficult to get used to the new Google home page, especially after 20 years of knowing exactly what to expect when visiting its search engine. But with progress comes change, and the advent of deep learning technologies should usher in all sorts of wonderful (and perhaps not so wonderful) things in the coming years.


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Report: Sales of Samsung Galaxy 8 are up 15% Over Galaxy 7

The Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge were big hits in the marketplace, but it appears that the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are doing even better. At a recent conference in Taiwan, a Samsung mobile executive reports that the new model is outselling its predecessor by 15%.

Ironically, “word on the street” was just the opposite – that the Galaxy S8 lineup was “underperforming” in sales from the previous Samsung model.

Analysts are still scratching their heads a bit on the numbers due to the fact that Samsung stopped publicizing its sales figures a couple months ago.  Of course any company is going to downplay rumors that its sales are lagging, especially if there are not hard numbers to compare with previous handset models.

Samsung had troubles last year when some of its batteries contained in its products were starting on breaking down and causing all sorts of issues that downright scare consumers.  After all, who wants a phone that could very well start on fire in your pocket?

The company also revealed that they are planning to roll out the much anticipated Galaxy Note 8 in late summer or early September. The new model will follow in the footsteps of the discontinued Galaxy Note 7. The company touts that it will be its most powerful handset yet. At 6 GB of RAM and a powerful Snapdragon 835 engine, the Galaxy Note 8 will certainly be something to take a serious look for Samsung diehards.

The new Samsung models will have their work cut out for them with the roll out of Apple’s much anticipated iPhone 8. Rumors are swirling however that Apple may have product delay issues with the iPhone 8, which is no doubt music to the ears of Samsung executives.


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A Laptop That Charges Wirelessly? Well, Kind of….

The introduction of “laptop” computers changed the way people worked. No longer were they tied down to a desktop computer. The laptop allows the freedom to go anywhere and work anywhere. But if you have ever been in an airport desperately searching for a plug to charge that darn laptop, you know it is only limited by the length of its power supply.

So when Dell recently introduced a “wireless” laptop charging port, it raised more than a few eyebrows. What good is the freedom of a laptop if you are constantly looking for a plug to charge it?

Disconnecting the laptop from its charging cord is the last frontier in computing freedom, and Dell’s new Latitude 7285 model may be the breakthrough that laptop users across the world have been waiting for.

Dell touts the new machine as the the world’s first laptop that contains wireless charging capabilities. Sounds almost too good to be true, right?

Don’t get too excited just yet. Even though, technically, the machine can get a wireless charge, the charging mat that powers it does have to be connected to a power outlet.  In reality, you still need to be relatively close to the power source, just not tethered by a cord.

So rather than plugging your computer in directly to an outlet when it needs to be charged, you can simply place it directly on the charging “mat”.

But is Dell really onto something here? As far as cost goes, probably not. The laptop comes in at around $1200 – but the wireless keyboard and charging mat will set you back another $550! That’s alot of money for simply getting rid of a power cord.

Nice try Dell.

Let us know when you invent a laptop that charges via a WiFi connection. Now that would be revolutionary!


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Would You Pay $1200 for a Cell Phone?

Apple has always commanded premium prices from its customers. Even going back to the early days of its educational computers, the company positioned its products as top-of-the-line devices that demanded consumers to fork over top dollar to purchase them.

The iPhone has always been in the upper ranges of pricing throughout the wireless industry, but now rumor has it that the next Apple iPhone (8) may set you back upwards of $1200.

$1200 for a phone?

Will Apple’s customers continue to shell out well over $1000 for a phone?

If history is any indicator, the answer is “Yes”.

The iPhone 7 now starts at $649 for the 32 gig model, with a 4.7 inch display. The new iPhone 8 is rumored to sport a 5.8 inch display and will be packed more more internal memory than many desktop computers. The iPhone 7 Plus can top out at a whopping $969 for the 256-GB model.

There is no doubt that the iPhone 8 will sell for a record price, not only because of its expected high demand, but also because of limited supply in some of its components.

Apple is rumored to have technical problems with incorporating new fingerprint security into the iPhone 8. Security on the new iPhone will be unprecedented levels for a phone.

Because of these security issues, the new oLED iPhone could be delayed, or even shipped without the fingerprint sensor. These issues could have a definite effect on the sales cycle, at least in the beginning stages.

Apple stock has performed will recently, outperforming 71% of other stocks in its sector. If the Apple iPhone 8 is as successful as earlier models, the revenue could propel the stock into another 2-3 years of phenomenal growth. Many analysts agree, that its not a good idea to bet against Apple. We tend to agree!


Phontronics Schaumburg is your local source in the suburbs of Chicago for Apple iPhone and Macbook repair.


Could the New Apple iPad Replace Your Laptop?

In June of 2017, Apple made a significant upgrade to its iPad Pro tablets.  Consumers looking to purchase the new iPad pros will notice that the new devices include a faster CPU, more RAM, and even the option for more storage.

If that is not enough to satisfy current iPad users, the new iPad Pros boast much improved cameras and improved screens (including a wider color gamut) than previous iPad models. Apple has managed to increase screen size of the 10.5 inch iPad Pro by incorporating smaller bezels, which effectively results in a 20 percent or more increase in viewing area. The refresh rates have also been improved to 120 Hz.

In March of 2016, the 9.7 inch iPad was introduced, and this 10.5 inch model effectively replaces that model. Consumers that are familiar with the 9.7 inch iPad will notice the difference of the new model immediately.

The new model sports a screen that is not only crisper, but is noticeably larger as well. Scrolling is excellent and animation is as good as it has ever been on an iPad.

The introduction of iOS 11, however, will only accentuate the positives that the new iPad Pros have to offer. If you have been holding off on purchasing a new iPad, your wait may be over. The improved features of the new iPad Pros will remove any and all reasons to wait.

Even though the screen on the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is brighter than ever before, and the screen refresh rate is faster, the battery life of this new device has not been affected. Apple engineers have figured out how to allow the new iPad Pro to detect what users are working on at any given moment and allowed the screen rate to refresh accordingly. Kind of a “smart” iPad at work.

So the new iPad Pro will “know” whether you are simply reading a book or browsing the web and adjust its screen refresh rate accordingly. The new iPad Pro can even detect frame rate when a user is watching videos or movies and adjust the frame rate to match what is needed.

The end result is that no matter what you are doing on your new iPad, the device will allow for 10 straight hours of battery life before needing a charge.

Business users will appreciate the fact that a new Smart Keyboard can be attached to the 10.5 inch iPad Pro. This new keyboard features somewhat larger keys than were available for the 9.7-inch model.

The new keyboard has excellent feel and improved tactile feedback, making it easy to type on without having to “retrain” yourself as you type.

The new iPads come with a few additional changes. More storage is available, with these models starting at a 64 GB and ranging up to 512GB. Previously only 32 GB was the maximum. The cellular radios can handle more bands and they are more expensive, starting at a $50 boost for WiFi-only versions of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro over equivalent versions of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.

If you are considering a “laptop replacement”, then this new iPad Pro may be your answer. This device would serve a business person well as the only device needed to get all work done.


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The iPhone Turns 10 Years Old This Month

It is hard to believe, but the Apple iPhone turns 10 years old this week. After a rough start at birth, the device has changed the world in just 10 short years. What will it look like in another 10 years?

June 29th, 2007 was the official birthdate of the original iPhone. Since then, Apple has racked up sales of more than 1 billion (yes, with a B!) smartphones. That’s ALOT of phones.

Ironically, early sales of the device were slow. Apple was forced to slash prices during the 2007 Christmas season to help spur on sales.

Few people remember the first year of the Apple iPhone beginnings, but many in business consider that first 12 months to be a complete disaster for the revolutionary product. The first iPhone had no app store, and ATT was the only carrier for consumers at the time. As Apple always seems to do, they “figured it out” in a short time and the rest is history. Had you invested $10,000 in Apple stock in 2007, you’d be sitting on a pile of cash now that would make your head spin.

The Apple iPhone was so revolutionary at the time, even its suppliers were a little surprised. But judging from the success of earlier Apple products, one should know not to ever doubt the pure genius of Steve Jobs.

Once the App Store was introduced in 2008, the iPhone was well on its way to being one of the most popular electronic devices in history. The App Store provided just one more revenue stream for the company, taking a cut of every app sold in the marketplace.

Fast forward to today, the App Store brings in over $24 billion in annual revenue!

10 years after the initial iPhone was introduced, Apple fans now look to the latest roll out, the iPhone 8, expected to hit stores in the fall of 2017.

No one knows for sure just what the iPhone 8 will bring, but its a good bet that there will be enough intrigue in the new device to help Apple stock reach new highs in the coming years. Many consumers still use the iPhone 5 and 6. There is no doubt that the iPhone 8 will entice many to take the plunge and upgrade.

Android is still the smartphone of choice for consumers around the world, but its the iPhone that generates the most profit in the industry. Apple has always been able to set high prices for its products, of which its super loyal fan base will gladly pay to use its products.

Steve Jobs, if alive today, would be proud. His products over the last 30 years have literally changed the world, and more importantly changed the way we think about the telephone. No one would have imagined that just 10 years ago we would use our phones for virtually everything from taking pictures and video, surfing the internet, checking weather radar or the stock market, “face timing”, and relying on our phones for doing just about anything we want through the use of a free or almost-free “app”.

No one but Steve Jobs that is! Happy 10th anniversary iPhone!

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Apple’s New Chicago Store Sports a Macbook Roof

There is a new building going up in Chicago, and there will be no doubt what the company inside will be selling – unless you have been in a coma for the last 10 years. The new building being built along the Chicago river is the new Apple Store and its roof will be adorned by the largest Macbook ever built. It’s not a real one, of course!

The Apple Store will be located at 401 N. Michigan Ave. and its roof will be shaped with the Macbook distinctive curve and metal, making it look much like the cover of an Apple laptop. Don’t bother heading to the site to snap a photo though. Construction crews have rolled up the logo and had it removed. Apple is all about secrecy so doesn’t want to spoil the surprise until its ready. unveiling until.

The new store has been in the works for two year, and initially, there were no plans for an Apple Macbook-like roof. Plans can, and do, change however.

The new store in the Windy City replaces the previous flagship store housed at 679 N. Michigan Ave. Apple states that the original store just north of the new one has seen 23 million customers come through its doors since 2003.

Made primarily of glass, the new Apple digs will be 20,000 square feet in size. That’s alot of room for Apple products!. Even after 2 years in the making, the new Apple store has no set date for its grand opening.

Apple’s new headquarters in CA resembles a spaceship, so this new Chicago location is quite conservative in its look in comparison.

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Virtual Reality Coming to a Mac Near You

Virtual reality will soon become the next big thing in computing and Apple is wasting no time getting ahead of the curve. The company has announced that its new Mac laptops and desktops will support external graphics hardware. This will make the Mac line of machines have the capability of greatly increasing its graphic capabilities for users.

External graphics hardware will enable Mac computer to support virtual reality headsets. Virtual reality requires high-end graphics capabilities of which third-party vendors will be able to bring to the Mac experience. In the past, virtually reality headsets have only supported by Windows PCs. If you want to wait for a Mac machine to have virtually reality built-in, the newly announced iMac Pro will suit your needs perfectly – albeit a heft price tag of $4,999. That is alot of horsepower!

Test kits will soon be available for MacOS developers. The kit includes an AMD Radeon RX 580 card and a USB-C hub coupled with a Thunderbolt 3 connector. That should be enough for developers who want to try their hand at building games and apps that take advantage of virtual reality.

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USB-C Will Soon Make USB and Micro USB Obselete

Unless you have been living under a rock the past few years, you have undoubtedly notice that laptops continue to get thinner and thinner. Manufacturers are finding new ways to shrink the thickness of their laptop devices to what would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. Consider Apple’s latest MacBook Pro that comes in at a mind-blowing thickness of just 14.9mm. The Asus ZenBook comes in even thinner at 11.9mm. As the thickness of these machines decrease, manufacturers are rethinking the inclusion of the traditional USB socket (75mm tall). This is the main reason that the USB-C connector is going mainstream, included more and more on all types of devices.

So exactly what is USB-C connections and why should you care?

The main reason is that the USB-C connectivity is fast become the norm for transmitting both power and data. Just as the USB replaced connections of old, the USB-C connection is poised to replace its predecessor USB. Virtually all manufacturers are embracing the new standard in electronic connectivity, including Microsoft, Apple, Dell, Samsung, Intel, and hundreds of others. The acceptance of USB-C by the majority of PC manufacturers is important, especially if you remember the days of the Lightning and MagSafe connectors promoted, and used, by only Apple back in the day.

In reality, USB-C looks much like a micro USB connector but at closer glance, the USB-C connector has no “up-down” orientation. Plug it in either way and you are in business – no flipping needed!. The connector is identical on both ends of the cable so they really are a no brainer to use compared to other cable options in use over the last couple decades.

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USB-C is capable of sending video and power streams simultaneously. So if you have the proper adapter and cable, you can connect to virtually anything. In addition, the USB-C spec will soon be audio-capable, foreshadowing a day when the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack will become a thing of the past on all devices. And because some phones now are able to charge and transfer data (i.e. Google Pixel), phones from all manufacturers may soon eliminate the micro USB port altogether.

Another terrific (and useful) protocol that is supported by USB-C is Thunderbolt 3. This adds not only the ability to accommodate 40Gbps of bandwidth, but also adds reduced power consumption to the picture. Couple a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3 and you will be able to use a single cable to power and transfer large amounts of data. The MacBook Pro contains 4 USB-C connections, giving users huge potential from an expandability perspective than earlier USB connections.

Fortunately there are USB-C adapters available that can support using hardware of yesterday with today’s new machines.

Within a few years, USB-C will be the standard replacing traditional USB connections as well as micro USB connections. It will be nice to see a day when a single cable is needed to charge your phone, connect your laptop, and/or power up your tablet.

When shopping for a new laptop, you may want to consider purchasing a machine that supports USB-C connections. Thinner laptops will most likely have it, but if you are considering purchasing a desktop, do your homework to insure you don’t regret not having USB-C ports included on the machine.
Just as USB replaced serial ports on Macs and PCs (remember those?!), USB-C will be the connection of electronic devices for many years to come.

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Researchers Discover New Method Hackers Use to Control Devices

Just when you thought you were safe from hackers, yet another method for gaining access to your computer is discovered – subtitles.

Subtitles, you say? The text that shows at the bottom of a screen for foreign movies?


Researchers have recently discovered a new attack method that allows for hackers to gain access to PCs, mobile devices, and smart TVs via malicious subtitles. Four of the most popular media players on the market – Stremio, Popcorn Time, Kodi, and VLC are at risk. This means that there are hundreds of millions of devices that are susceptible to subtitle hacking.

Hackers are able to create malicious subtitles and essentially bypass any security software on a device, giving the attacker complete control of the device and the data it contains.

Film and TV show subtitles are created by writers and they are uploaded to repository sites online such as These files are then indexed and ranked. The problem arises when hackers infiltrate these repositories algorithms to convince device media players to download the malicious subtitles.

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Researchers who discovered the hack have alerted developers of the media players that are vulnerable. Some issues have already been addressed while others are still being investigated.
Security researchers encourage all users to be vigilant on updating their streaming players to the latest versions of software possible.

Because all subtitles are typically perceived as benign text files, anti-virus software and security measures are unable to vet malicious files before being downloaded by victims.

It is estimated that there are over 200 million video players that currently run the vulnerable software. The video below illustrates how attackers are able to manipulate subtitles to control your machine.