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Your technology news fix

How was everyone’s Christmas? If like me, you were itching to get back to your PC and get your daily fix of what’s going on in the world of technology, we won’t keep you waiting any more!

iPhone TomTom 1.6 with MapShare
Navigation giant TomTom has released an upgrade to its iPhone App. The new version 1.6 is enhanced with Map Sharing Capabilities, which enables users to apply verified crowd-sourced corrections to their map.  You are now able to make changes to its maps yourself by editing street names, setting driving directions and blocking / unblocking streets and then share these with the TomTom community.  When it comes to updating, the app will automatically check for updates on a weekly basis or on demand.  As you would also expect this new version of the App brings the most up to date maps from TomTom. The App is available from the iTunes Store.

Will Microsoft make the Kinect more sensitive?
Are you one of those people that has hacked their Kinect? If so you probably know something that regular users don’t…the Kinect’s Infrared camera is actually capable of a higher resolution than the console itself supports.  Originally Microsoft released that the Kinect ran on 320 x 240 pixels, however we now know that both colour and depth cameras display 640 x 480 pixel images if you hook the Kinect up to a PC.  An anonymous source has said that Microsoft is now looking to do the same in the video game arena. It was originally reported that the Kinect was limited to allow room for other USB peripherals to run at the same time. However if Microsoft finds a way round the limitation, it could use a firmware update to make the Kinect sensitive enough to detect individual finger motions and eventually gesture control.

Google erases all of the UK Wi-Fi data

Not so long ago Google promised to delete the data it had collected…and now finally it has. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has confirmed that Google has deleted all personal information collected erroneously through unsecure Wi-Fi networks in the UK through its Street View cars.  The BBC was told by Google,

We can confirm that the UK data has now been deleted, and that this has been independently certified.

A third-party, Stroz Friedberg, carried out the Data erasing after Google was found guilty of breaching UK data laws by the ICO by inadvertently collecting private data such as emails and passwords, and vowed to delete the data within 9 months.

The Daily iPad newspaper set for mid-January

Further details have emerged about what more to expect from The Daily, Apple and News Corp’s joint iPad newspaper venture that was supposed to have launched already.  Inside sources are now claiming a mid-January reveal and considering Apple used a late January gathering to unveil the iPad last year, it’s a safe bet Murdoch and Jobs’ paper will rock up at the same time as the iPad 2. The Digital paper is said to cost 99c a week and will apparently use 3D effects.

Gmail’s free voice calls will be available through all of 2011
While the rest of the world has to sit and wait for e-mail suppliers to offer free phone calls, Gmail’s US users are having their service extended for a whole year.  In August 2010 Google released software enabling their users to dial voice numbers in the USA and Canada for free and now it has decided to extend this free service for a further 12 months keeping users very happy and the flow of advertising dollars coming in.  If this is a success you may see this service being rolled out worldwide sooner than we think.

Heart Spark pendant blinks with your heartbeat
While this isn’t quite a diamond ring those of you that have already started thinking about what to get the lady or gent in your life come February look no further.  SenseBridge has just revealed the Heart Spark a wearable pendant with pretty LEDs and integrated Wi-Fi receiver. The wearer needs to strap a belt around their chest in order to monitor the heart rate, which is then sent wirelessly to the Heart Spark and in turn the LED lights flash at the same rate as your heart beat.  See the demo below:

Google PowerMeter comes to Blue Line Innovations
These days everybody is trying to save energy, not only to reduce their carbon footprint but also to save some much needed pennies.  Being aware of your energy consumption can help you cut costs by as much as 5-15% according to some estimates. One product that can help with real time power monitoring of your consumption is the Power Cost Monitor from Blue Line Innovation in collaboration with Microsoft HOHM. Now it has been announced that it will integrate with Google’s PowerMeter web monitoring solution.  Owners of the PowerCost Monitor Wi-Fi Edition kit will have the ability to measure their carbon footprint from a PC or Smartphone. Fantastic!
View the Official Press Release


Google Maps 5.0 for Android is smaller, faster and 3D

The new version of Google Maps for Android is here and quite frankly WOW! The graphics are now Vector based meaning the files are smaller so maps load faster and they are now jam packed with data, including 3D buildings and you can even find your way when you lose your internet connection.

So what are Vector Based Graphics? Well, you know when you swipe across Maps and each new section appears in big square tiles? The new maps are made up of data recording the details of the landscape, instead of individual tiles, making the files smaller. This makes them faster to draw, so moving and zooming on the maps is super-quick.  Another big step is that your phone can now cache maps so if you lose your signal, you can still plan your route on maps saved to your phone. However when your phone is connected to Wi-Fi or the internet you can see live traffic and richer map details, including 3D models.

The App also features 3D Landscaping, drag down with two fingers to tilt the map and watch as 3D buildings sprout from the ground like a city flowering around you.  The 3D landscape is available in cities that have been mapped in 3D. London hasn’t been ‘3D-ified’ yet but other cities from Birmingham to San Francisco have had the virtual treatment.

The new-look Maps was revealed by Google boss Andy Rubin at a recent conference, when he whipped out a prototype Motorola tablet and showed off an early version of the next version of Android, codenamed Honeycomb.

Take a look for yourself:

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