Microsoft and Google Create Tablets; Attempt to Rival iPad


Image Credit: Tsubaki Kaworu

When it comes to the iPad, Apple must be doing something right, because other tech giants such as Microsoft and Google are creating their own tablet computers in an attempt to grab a piece of the tablet market.

Originally released in April, 2010, the iPad took the tablet world by storm. A short two years later, Apple has sold over 58 million units, and their staggering growth isn’t predicted to slow down anytime soon.

That is, of course, unless Microsoft or Google have their way.

In early June, 2012, Microsoft unveiled their answer to Apple’s iPad – the Microsoft Surface tablet. In what as seen as a first for Microsoft, the hardware for the Surface will also bear Microsoft’s name, as it will be produced in-house. This is a departure from Microsoft’s typical norm, where their software works with a whole range of hardware manufactured by other companies.

The Surface features a 10.6-inch wide display, consisting of the scratch-resistant Gorilla glass, a multi-touch keyboard and track pad, a full-size USB port, dual Wi-Fi antennae, and more. Models will come in a variety of colors, and will come with either 64 GB or 128 GB of storage space. Microsoft’s Surface tablet is expected to cost around $599.

Then, in late June, 2012, Google unveiled their rival tablet – the Google Nexus 7 tablet. Built by ASUS, the Nexus 7 will be the first of Google’s devices to ship with the much anticipated Android 4.1 OS release – Jelly Bean.

While it is attempting to gain market share against iPad, many early testers have noted that the features are similar to the Kindle Fire, suggesting that perhaps Google is angling to take over more than one area of the market.

The Nexus 7 features a 7-inch display, a 1.2-megapixel front facing camera, a micro-USB port, and comes with either 8 GB or 16 GB of storage space. Unfortunately, there is no storage expandability at this time. The Nexus 7 starts at $199.

Regardless of which company you favor, all of this extra competition in the tablet market should help to drive down the cost, making it more affordable for consumers.

Already use a tablet? We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a comment telling us what you use, and why you like it.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who enjoys helping you understand your technology options. Email:

Android Tip: Access Apps Quickly With Application Groups (Android 2.2 and up)

Droid App Group

Android App Group

Want a quick, easy way to access apps on your Android without searching through your entire list of apps, and without cluttering your screens with shortcuts? Try using application groups instead.

Android users have a limited amount of screen space available to them – typically 3 to 7 screens on average. With limited space, it’s easy to see how screens can quickly become cluttered, especially if you install a lot of apps.

In the past, the solution was to download another app to allow for organization. However, Android started catching on, and gave users the ability to group apps into folders to reduce screen clutter.

This worked for a while, but it became clear that this still wasn’t the solution that Android users wanted, so with version 2.2, Android introduced the ability to group applications from the actual app screen.

App groups are an easy way to categorize everything, allowing you to quickly access what you need, when you need it, without wasting time searching. Additionally, you can add an app group to your main screen, making it even easier to access.

To group your apps, click on the apps button. Press and long hold on the app you would like to categorize. A menu will appear, with one of the options being “Add to Group.” Click this option and then add the app to an existing group, or click the green plus to create a New Group. You may name groups whatever you wish.

Note: You can only group apps if you’re running Android version 2.2 or higher. To determine which version you are running, go to Settings > About Phone > and look for the Android Version number.

You may also have some default groups set, depending on your carrier. (For example, on Verizon phones, there is a Verizon Wireless group already setup which groups all Verizon apps together.)

To switch between groups, click on the Apps button, and then click on the words “All Apps” at the top. A menu will appear, showing you a list of groups. Click on the desired group to access the group.

If you accidentally add an app to the wrong group, go to the group, locate the app, press and long hold, and when the menu appears, select “Remove from group.”

To add an application group to a particular screen on your Android, locate the spot where you would like the group to appear. Press and long hold until the menu appears and select Shortcut > Applications > App Groups. Then, select the appropriate application group.

Try setting up an app group for the gym, that includes everything you need for working out (like your favorite music or video apps), or setup an app group for anything else you need. App groups are a quick, easy way to catalog what’s on your phone, so that you can access exactly what you need, when you need it.

What application groups do you use on your Android phone? Leave us a comment and share how you use your Android phone.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who enjoys helping you better understand the inner workings of your smartphone. Email:

Which Version of Windows 7 Should You Choose?: Part II

Windows 7

Image Credit: Masaru Kamikura

Welcome to the second part of our discussion, Which Version of Windows 7 Should You Choose?

If you haven’t already done so, please read Part I for some great reasons to upgrade, before continuing.

How to Choose

Maybe you’re ready to upgrade, but are daunted by all of the different editions of Windows 7. Here is a quick rundown which will hopefully help shed some new light.

First off, it is important to note that the features for all editions of Windows 7 are included, regardless of which edition you are using. Your license key type is what determines which features you can actually access.

Windows 7 Home Premium: This edition is geared toward home users and contains some basic Windows 7 features, like Windows Media Center. Home Premium can join a basic home workgroup, but not an actual server run domain (like a business domain).

Windows 7 Professional: Created for high-end users and small-business, this edition provides all the features of Home, but with additional business features, like being able to join domains, run programs in XP mode, activate Software Restriction Policies and more.

Windows 7 Enterprise: This edition is only sold to companies with a Software Assurance contract with Microsoft. Enterprise is is packed with even more business and enterprise level features, like data encryption with BitLocker, Unix application support, the ability to run virtual machines, and more.

Windows 7 Ultimate: Contains all features of the previous editions of Windows 7. If you want to use Windows 7 without limitations, this is the version to purchase.

Which Bit is Best?

On top of all the editions, there are also two different versions of Windows 7 – 32-bit and 64-bit. However, determining which version is for you depends on your computer.

There is no point in getting a 64-bit operating system, if you don’t have a processor capable of running 64-bit.

You can test your computer’s compatibility before upgrading with Microsoft’s Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor.

Other Reasons to Upgrade

Just in case you’re still on the fence about upgrading, here are a few other reasons to think about.

Installation is so fast, you’ll be amazed. Finally, Microsoft came out with a version of Windows which doesn’t take forever to install. Typically you can be using your computer again, after a fresh install of Windows 7, in as little as 30 minutes (or less).

Student pricing allows you to purchase Windows 7 for cheap – under 75 dollars, depending on edition and school deals. Microsoft also offers student discounts for other Microsoft programs, but you must actually be a student, and your school has to participate in Microsoft’s program. Check out Microsoft’s student discounts.

It’s just better. Windows 7 is simply a superior operating system. While it might look quite different from Windows XP, it is an easier system for users to navigate, making your time on the computer enjoyable. (Writer’s note: trust me on this one; I wasn’t a big Windows or Microsoft fan until Windows 7 came onto the scene, and I’ve used all of the other versions of Windows.)

Hopefully this post gave you enough information to finally consider taking the plunge, and upgrading to Windows 7. Once you finally do, you’ll wonder why you waited so long.

Are you in love with Windows 7 because of a recent upgrade? Leave us a comment and tell us about your experience.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help make your technology easier to understand. Email: