Hardware

Paul Taylor

How best to judge Microsoft’s next-generation tablet, the Surface Pro 3, which was unveiled by its new chief executive Satya Nadella at an event in New York on Tuesday?

One way would be to compare it to its previous incarnation, which received a more positive critical response for its improved features, but still did not really make a dent in the market share of Apple iOS or Android devices – Microsoft has recorded about $2.64bn in Surface sales so far. For comparison, Apple sold $7.6bn worth of iPads in the latest quarter alone.

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Microsoft is expected to unveil a third generation version of its Surface tablet later on Tuesday.

Then again, it might not.

What’s likely to come out of its New York event (4pm London time, webcast here ) has been kept tightly under wraps by the company, leading to speculation that ranges from a Surface “mini” being shown to a larger 12-inch tablet, to nothing more than tweaks to existing models.

Whatever is in store, Microsoft needs some fairly dramatic improvements for Surface to come anywhere close to matching the iPad’s appeal. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Watching the Apple faithful grapple with its imminent acquisition of Beats Electronics has been fascinating.

The only thing Apple watchers seem to agree on is that nobody saw it coming, even though Reuters reported talks about some sort of tie-up over streaming music more than a year ago. It’s the ultimate example of Apple doing something nobody could imagine Steve Jobs doing. Read more

Sometimes it pays to be behind the times. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

A cheeky Apple advertisement appeared in several newspapers on Tuesday. Above a vast array of solar panels, it read: “There are some ideas we want every company to copy.”

The ad ran not only during Apple’s latest bout of patent litigation against Samsung, which continues in a San Jose courtroom, but on Earth Day, an annual reminder of our environmental responsibilities.

Apple used Earth Day to launch a new video ad, ‘Better’, narrated by chief executive Tim Cook himself, and a new portion of its website dedicated to its green achievements. These include powering its data centres with 100 per cent renewable energy, as well as 120 of its retail stores.

But perhaps more remarkable is that Mr Cook let Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives, give an open and sometimes unscripted talk at Stanford University on Tuesday night. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Lytro caused a lot of excitement among photography enthusiasts when it launched in 2011. Billed as the third evolution of the camera after film and digital, Lytro’s unique “light-field” sensor allowed snappers to “shoot first, focus later”, as well as other “computational photography” tricks such as shifting perspective or add 3D elements to an image after the photo is taken.

However, the Silicon Valley start-up’s first camera was aimed not at hardcore photographers, but at a mass market. The $500, flashlight-shaped device was described by the FT’s Chris Nuttall as “an amusement for now”, due to issues such as a small screen/viewfinder and counter-intuitive controls, even if he predicted the underlying technology was “likely to change photography radically in the long run”.

Three years and one CEO change later, Lytro is back with a new device, the Illum. It is aimed more directly at those snap-happy early adopters, professionals and “aspiring amateurs” who were most enthusiastic about its technology in the first place but perhaps found version one fell short of their hopes. Read more

China invented printing several centuries before Gutenberg’s mechanical press in Germany. Now a Chinese company in Shanghai appears to have stolen a march over Europe in the race to build the world’s first 3D printed house.

A Shanghai company, Shanghai WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co, says it made 10 3D printed houses (see photos) each costing $4,800 each in less than 24 hours, according to 3ders, a 3D printing industry website.

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Here’s Apple’s play in the world of cars, and it’s called, er, CarPlay. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Photo: Getty

Google is expanding the number of people who can get hold of Glass, as the FT reported late last year. Now a few friends of each of its first “Explorers” and selected other developers can purchase the experimental wearable device.

With all those new lenses wandering around, it hasn’t escaped Google’s notice that its wearers are getting “a lot of attention”. Google has talked to its existing community of Explorers for some tips on how to deal with the rest of the world, finally acknowledging that it can look “pretty weird”. Read more

Arm’s share-price surge on the crest of a smartphone wave over the past five years has been impressive, but the UK chip designer is now suffering and in search of a fresh sea change in technology. Read more