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Google I/O 2013

It was really, really hard to get into Google I/O this year, so a lot of people that wanted to attend the show just couldn’t make it out to San Francisco’s Moscone Center for the event. was lucky enough to be on scene, so we made sure to write lots of articles and take lots of pictures to get you up to speed.
The gallery above will give you a quick (well, relative to flying out to San Francisco for three days) walk through of I/O, including the 3+ hour keynote, the Sandbox, the crowds at Moscone, the famed I/O Day 1 after hours event (complete with a Billy Idol concert), and some of the sessions. It’s not quite an all access pass, but it’s close enough.
Google Maps DiveAnd — don’t forget — the most important part of I/O after the keynote are those sessions. Google has been excellent about making a large number of them viewable on YouTube, so if you really want to know what happened at Google’s developer conference you should watch as many of those as you can take.
From Maps to Chrome OS right on to Billy Idol, it was a pretty incredible developer conference. There wasn’t much new hardware this year — just the announcement of the Galaxy S4 Google Edition — but we did learn a lot about where Google is now and where the company is headed in the future.
At I/O this year Google set the stage for some big announcements from their developers, an improved Maps, a completely cleaned up Hangouts/instant messaging experience, and a lot more on the practical side. The company also gave us a peak into Google’s research process, how things are developed at the company, and — if nothing else — just how big they are thinking. Glass may have gotten most of the headlines from I/O 2013 but, if anything, it’s important because of how much it tells us about the future of Google.

Windows 8.1

Windows Blue hides 4K display support, tons of new features, developer says

For all the controversy surrounding Windows 8, it's a solid OS under the hood. And based on a list of API clues discovered by a former Nokia and Silverlight developer, it should only get better with the Windows Blue update.
Based on an extensive examination of the software APIs found within Windows Blue (now offically called Windows 8.1 by Microsoft), developer Justin Angel compiled a lengthy list of more than 25 features that he says will be included in the updated OS: the possibility of ultra-HD "4K" screen support, lock-screen calls, HDR photo support, better multi-screen formatting, and much more. 
Angel teased out the new features by examining the APIs he found in the leaked build of Windows 8.1 (version 9385), which appeared online at the beginning of May. Other Microsoft watchers have installed and played around with the leaked OS—Paul Thurrott published a thorough examination of its forward-facing features—but Angel's API deep-dive reveals even more hidden secrets.
Microsoft representatives declined to comment on what they called rumors and speculation. Angel is no stranger to diving deep into Microsoft products. Last December, he made news when he discovered a method to pirate Windows Store downloads by turning trial versions into full-version apps.
Assuming Angel's latest findings bear out, the new APIs reveal a number of undisclosed capabilities in Windows 8.1, which is expected to be officially unveiled at Microsoft's BUILD conference in San Francisco. The developer release, expected on June 26, will include changes based on customer feedback, including the possible return of the Start button from Windows 7 (though Angel's API analysis doesn't confirm that detail).
It should be noted that Angel confined his examination to Windows 8.1 RT, and not the more conventional Windows 8.1. Windows RT, of course, hasn't had the warmest of welcomes.

The sexy stuff: cameras, resolutions, and lock screens

Microsoft has already said that it will support high-resolution screens with Windows 8, to the point that Windows hardware could support screen resolutions exceeding the "retina" displays found in Macintosh products. Angel's investigation would seem to confirm this, finding support for 225 percent scaling, far exceeding the 180 percent scaling found in Windows 8. In essence, pixel densities for Windows hardware could jump from 240 DPI to 300 DPI.
"It’s possible we’ll see Win8.1 WinRT tablets sporting screens with much higher DPI then Apple’s retina even going all the way up to '4k' resolution," Angel wrote on his blog,
And if developers want that content projected on a second screen, with a different view, they can do so via the new ProjectionManager class.
"Imagine watching a video on your Win8 Atom-based tablet and plugging it into your TV," Angel wrote. "The tablet could duplicate the content on the TV, but it can’t choose to show one view for the TV and another view for the tablet screen. That for example is the experience for the Netflix iPad app. In Windows 8 Metro apps were spectacularly single screened and only had one single active view. It seems that in Windows 8.1 developers can opt-in to create additional alternate views for projection displays."
As has been previously revealed, apps can now set the lock screen background image. But while the Windows RT device is locked, Angel said, Windows 8.1 users should also be able to at least respond to incoming Skype calls from the lock screen, without having to input a password, unlock the PC, and accept the call. The LockScreenCallActivatedEventArgs API class should also display information about the call.
Although not everyone wants to take pictures with his tablet (does anyone?), the new 8.1 APIs support low-lag picture-taking, which, as Angel notes, could be used for two things. First, a low-lag camera could be used to eliminate shutter delay—the time between when the shutter button is clicked and when the picture is actually recorded. Second, the low-lag feature could be used to take a few, quick shots that could be stitched together. Shooting a few shots at different exposures and then digitally combining them is the basis for high-dynamic-range (HDR) photography, which Windows 8.1 could support.
Metro apps will also now be able to read and write to the camera roll, saved pictures and playlists, Angel wrote.

Support for new devices

Scanners might not be the sexiest of devices, but they were a hole in Windows 8's vaunted driver support. In general, drivers tend to be provided by the manufacturer themselves, not built inside the OS. But that should change with the release of Windows 8.1. Using the new Windows.Devices.Scanners namespace, apps can automate scanning and customizing documents from flatbed and feeder scanners, Angel wrote.
Enterprise users should also benefit from the additional support of smart cards, used for both mobile payment systems and for identification purposes. Windows 8.1 even supports the destruction of those cards. (Don't lose your PIN!) The new OS also includes an API called ClaimedBarcodeScanner.DataRecieved, which Angel says will allow support for both magnetic-stripe readers and barcode scanners.
The Windows 8.1 APIs also now indicate support for both Bluetooth 4.0 as well as Bluetooth Low Energy devices. Angel found support for both the RfComm bluetooth protocol and GATT Bluetooth profile, which are the core of Bluetooth 4.0 support.
Finally, Angel says that Windows 8.1 will support "any" USB or IO device.
"One of the big limitations of Win8 WinRT apps is their lack of ability to interact with connected and built-in devices unless previously exposed by WinRT," Angel writes. "It seems that’s about to change in Windows 8.1 with the introduction of the new Windows.Devices.Usb and Windows.Devices.Custom namespaces.  Both of these namespace provide IOutputStream and IInputStream to any USB or IO device. It’s fair to assume it’ll be heavily gated by permissions, but it’s still a great feature that opens up new avenues for Win8.1 apps."

General utilities (hello, search!) and other improvements

You know the Search charm within Windows 8? Congratulations, you're one of the few. But Angel found support for an inline SearchBox control—which, as the name suggests, now supports in-app searching. This means that developers won't necessarily have to force users to use the charm to actually search, but can add a more familiar search box instead.
In general, Metro apps stutter and sometimes stop when a VPN is introduced. Angel's sleuthing reports that will come to an end with Windows 8.1.
And although alternative PDF viewer apps are fairly common within the Windows Store, virtually none take place within the Metro environment. That should change with Blue, which now includes support for all apps to render PDF documents.
Windows 8.1 will also support "geofencing," or the ability to launch an app when the user enters (or, presumably leaves) a designated area. For example, an app could alert a user if his Windows tablet is stolen. Apps just need to set a center point and a radius.
Apps will also be to add appointments to the general Windows calendar via the new AppointmentsProvider, a feature that probably should have been included with the RTM release of Windows 8. Local text-to-speech is now enabled, too.
Angel also discovered a number of other, less important features in his lengthy runthrough.
While users tend to focus on the new, revamped Start Screen and other aspects of Windows 8, some of the best aspects of the new OS lie under the hood. If Angel's discoveries are correct, and Microsoft includes them in the final version of Windows 8.1, then we'll have a better sense of the direction in which Microsoft is moving.

Top 10 Paid Apps That Are Well Worth Their Price

Top 10 Paid Apps That Are Well Worth Their Price

Whitson Gordon
Don't get us wrong: free apps are amazing, and we're awfully thankful for them. But sometimes, you get what you pay for, and a few bucks can get you a much better app that'll make your life so much easier. Here are 10 paid apps we think are well worth the price.

10. Fences and Desktop Groups

Nobody likes a messy desktop. If you like to keep a lot of files, shortcuts, and other icons on your desktop for quick access, Fences (Windows) and Desktop Groups (Mac, Lite version) are two apps that will keep it from turning into a disaster. Each splits up your desktop into multiple ""groups"" so you can keep your stuff organized. Fences will even auto-organize by file type or other properties, while Desktop Groups lets you choose how to display each separate group (and on the Mac, desktop organization is doubly important). Fences runs $9.99, while Desktop Groups is a bit cheaper at $6 (and has a free lite version as well).

9. DisplayFusion and Multimon

Those of us with multiple monitors often feel left out-most operating systems only have a few basic features for us and that's it. Enter DisplayFusion (Windows) and Multimon (Mac). DisplayFusion gives you a ton of options for taskbars on each monitor, shortcuts to move windows between monitors, and features for managing your multi-monitor wallpaper (plus a ton more). Multimon does a lot of similar stuff for OS X: you get a menu bar on each screen, hotkeys to move between monitors, multiple screen layouts, and more. DisplayFusion has avery basic free version, but the feature-packed Pro version will run you $25. Multimon, with fewer features, is available for $10.

8. Parallels

If you're on a Mac, chances are you may need to run one or two Windows apps from time to time. That's where Parallels comes in. Sure, you could use a free virtualization program like VirtualBox, but Parallels is hands-down the best virtualization program for OS X, for its insane simplicity, speed, and very well-done ""Coherence Mode"" that runs Windows apps alone on your Mac desktop. Plus, it allows you to virtualize your Boot Camp partition, so you can choose between dual-booting and virtualizing whenever you want. You may think it's a bit pricey at $80, but it goes on sale all the time-so keep an eye out and with a bit of patience, you can probably grab it for less than half of that.

7. MediaMonkey

Picking a music player is a pretty personal choice, and everyone has their favorites. MediaMonkey isn't for everyone, but it is perfect for some: if you need to whip your music's metadata into shape, it has a ton of tagging and organizing features that would make even the most OCD among us shriek with joy. More importantly, though, if you need to sync iOS devices and don't like iTunes, MediaMonkey is one of the only apps that can do the job. Like some of the others on this list, MediaMonkey does have a free version, but the $25 paid version bringseven more advanced features that the music nut will love, particularly the audiophlies among you.

6. Breevy and aText

Text expansion is still one of our favorite life hacks of all time. With the right program and a few well-placed shortcuts, you can save yourself hours of typing every dayWindows has some free options available, and it's a good starting point-but once you get more into it, we really recommend shelling out for Breevy. It's by far the most stable and usable text expander on Windows, and while its $35 price tag seems steep, you'll realize how worthwhile it is once you start using it. Mac users are lucky, since they can get aText-the best text expander for Mac-for only $5.

5. Coda and Sublime Text

When we asked you about your favorite pay apps on Twitter and Google+, a ton of you responded with your favorite IDE or coding text editor, so we put them all into one category (even though they're all pretty different). Coda is an insanely awesome development environment for the Mac that is expensive at $75, but really hard to beat. If you want something free (or are on Windows), Eclipse is a popular cross-platform alternative. If you're looking for something that's a bit more of a programming text editor, there are some really great premium apps out there too, like Sublime Text ($70, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux). Of course, our favorite programming text editors for Windows and OS X -Notepad++ and TextMate, respectively-are both free, so they're worth a look too.

4. Fantastical and Rainlendar

These days, calendar apps can seem like a dime a dozen, but if you're willing to spend a few bucks, you can get something really special. Fantastical ($20) is a very cool app for OS X that is fast, intelligent, and can translate regular English into calendar events, all while staying out of your way. There isn't really a Windows equivalent, but Rainlendar ($13) is a popular favoritethat, like Fantastical, is designed to stay out of your way. It sits on your desktop, syncing with the web and keeping you up to date on everything important (plus, it's super customizable). Both are worth a look if you need something a bit more from your calendar.

3. Postbox and Sparrow

You may scoff at the idea of using a desktop email client, but they really are still worthwhile. And, while free apps like Thunderbird can do quite a bit, premium options like Postbox ($10, Windows/Mac) and Sparrow ($10, Mac) really take it to the next level. Postbox has a ton of advanced features for organizing, tagging, and searching through overflowing inboxes, especially when it comes to attachments. Sparrow-while it's been discontinued-is still an incredible, intuitive client that's absolutely worth the money, even without the promise of future updates.

2. Xplorer2 and Path Finder

Windows Explorer and the Finder are pretty simplistic, and sometimes that's good. But when you need to do some serious file management and organization, it's time to switch to something better. For that, we recommend our favorite file explorers for Windows and Mac:Xplorer2 ($30) and Path Finder ($40), respectively. Xplorer2 brings multi-pane, tabbed file browsing to Windows, as well as instant file previews, tons of shortcuts, and more features we could possibly list here (and if you're willing to spend an extra few bucks, Teracopy makes an amazing partner to Xplorer2). Path Finer offers dual-pane and tabbed file browsing in OS X as well, along with a temporary ""holding stack"" for your files, built-in command line support, and, most shockingly of all...cut and paste! Okay, that was a low blow, but still...cut and paste.

1. CrashPlan

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: everyone should back up their data regularly. You hear it all the time, but not everyone does it, and they kick themselves when they lose their data and need it most. Sure, you could back up your data to an external hard drive for free, but that won't save you if you lose your computer in a fire, earthquake, theft, or other non-software disaster. The only way to keep your data truly backed up is to use the cloud, andCrashPlan's cloud backup is well worth its low price. Check out our guide to setting up an automated, bulletproof backup solution to see how easy it is, and finally start keeping your data safe. (If you don't like CrashPlan, Backblaze is a good alternative.)