Is High-resolution audio in ?

In the last 15 years, as digital music has slowly but surely extinguished the analog flame, the focus with digital audio has always been on enabling easy access, portability, and manageability of the content. The MP3 format, and other compression codecs like AAC, Windows Media Audio, etc., have revolutionized the way music is distributed and consumed. These technologies took music from a physical format on CDs to one that could be stored or accessed on a digital player, tablet, phone, computer, or streaming device, making an enormous amount of audio available to consumers. The original Rio player, iPod, iPhone, PC, streaming devices, and the countless other devices that play and stream digital music have helped to transform the music and consumer electronics industries.

Along the way, however, sound quality has generally taken a back seat to advances in usability, the amount of content available, customizability of the music experience, and convenience of having your music whenever and wherever you want it. With the battle for supremacy now won, and digital music firmly entrenched in our lives, it’s now time to take the next step: It’s time to move from crappy MP3s and low-quality streams to high-resolution audio.

What is high-resolution audio?
What exactly is high-resolution audio? For the purposes of this discussion, the focus will be in hi-res audio for music content, not movies and video, because there is quite a bit of difference in how music and video is consumed. High-resolution audio has been available since the advent of the DVD and on Blu-ray discs with Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD soundtracks, but that’s a whole different discussion. This one’s about music, which in the digital world is mostly in non-high-res formats like MP3 and AAC.

High-resolution audio basics
The current standard for music encoding is 16-bit/44.1KHz encoding, which is the CD standard — originally created by Sony and Philips — that has been around since the early 1980s. Today’s MP3 and AAC tracks available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and other download stores are based on this encoding. All the popular streaming services like Pandora, Spotify, Slacker, and many others are also based on this encoding. Simply put, high-resolution audio is 24-bit/96KHz encoding, which is an analog wave sampled at 96,000 times per second, with each sample consisting of 24 bits (higher standards, such as 24-bit/192KHz, also exist). Generally, more bits equals more audio information captured, and should lead to better sound.

The other big thing to understand is lossless versus lossy formats. MP3 and AAC are referred to as lossy compression formats, which can get theoretically very close to CD quality at the higher bit rates for each (as in 320Kbps for MP3 and 256Kbps for AAC). Lossy formats use compression that throws away some of the encoded audio information, which tends to compress some of the dynamic range of the music. Formats like WAV, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC and others offer the ability to have lossless compression for audio content. Some of these, like FLAC and WAV, support 24/96 and higher audio encoding. Another high-resolution format is DSD (Direct Stream Digital, invented by Sony and Philips for the Super Audio CD format) which samples analog waves at a much higher rate (2.8224MHz) and stores it in 1-bit samples.


10 Things To Do When You Get a New iPhone


When you get a new iPhone—especially if it’s your first iPhone—there are literally hundreds (maybe even thousands) of things to learn how to do. But you need to start somewhere, and that somewhere ought to be the basics.

Read on for suggestions and instructions on the first 10 things you should do when you get a new iPhone. Though these tips only scratch the surface of what you can do with an iPhone, they’ll start you on your path to becoming an iPhone pro.

1. Install iTunes
When it comes to the iPhone, iTunes is much more than just the program that stores and plays your music. It’s also the tool that lets you add and remove music, video, photos, apps, and more from your iPhone. It’s also where a number of settings related to what goes on your iPhone live. Needless to say, it’s pretty crucial to using your iPhone.

Macs come with iTunes pre-installed; if you have Windows, you’ll need to download it (luckily it’s a free download from Apple).

2. Create Apple ID
If you want to use the iTunes Store or the App Store—and you must, right? Why would you get an iPhone if you didn’t want to take advantage of its hundreds of thousands of amazing apps?—you need an Apple ID (aka an iTunes account). This free account not only lets you buy music, movies, apps, and more at iTunes, it’s also the account you use for other useful features like iMessage, iCloud, Find My iPhone, FaceTime, and many other awesome technologies on the iPhone. Having an Apple ID isn’t technically a requirement, but I think it’s essential.

3. Activate New iPhone
Needless to say, the first thing you need to do with your new iPhone is to activate it. You can do everything you need right on the iPhone and start using it in just a few minutes. The basic setup process activates the iPhone and lets you choose fundamental settings for using features like FaceTime, Find My iPhone, iMessage, and more. You can change those settings later, if you want, but start here.

4. Set Up & Sync Your iPhone
Once you’ve got iTunes and your Apple ID in place, it’s time to plug your iPhone into your computer and start loading it with content! Whether that’s music from your music library, ebooks, photos, movies, or more, the article linked above can help. It also has tips on how to re-arrange your app icons, create folders, and more.

Once you’ve synced via USB once, you can change your settings and sync over Wi-Fi from now on.

5. Configure iCloud
Using your iPhone gets much easier when you have iCloud—especially if you’ve got more than one computer or mobile device that has your music, apps, or other data on it. ICloud collects a lot of features together into a single tool, including the ability to back up your data to Apple’s servers and re-install it over the Internet with one click or automatically sync data across devices. ICloud also allows you to redownload anything you’ve bought at the iTunes Store, so even if you lose or delete them, your purchases are never truly gone. And it’s free!

6. Set Up Find My iPhone
This is crucial. Find My iPhone is a feature of iCloud that lets you use the iPhone’s built-in GPS to pinpoint its location on a map. You’re going to be glad you have this if your iPhone ever goes lost or gets stolen. In that case, you’ll be able to locate it down to the part of the street it’s on, which can be important information to give to the police if you’re trying to recover a stolen phone. But in order to use Find My iPhone when your phone goes missing, you first have to set it up. Do that now and you won’t be sorry later.

It’s worth knowing, though, that setting up Find My iPhone isn’t the same thing as having the Find My iPhone app. You don’t necessarily need the app.

7. Set Up and Use Touch ID, the iPhone Fingerprint Scanner
Another very important step if you want to keep your iPhone secure. Touch ID is the fingerprint scanner built into the Home button on the iPhone 5S, 6, and 6 Plus (no other Apple devices offer it yet). While Touch ID was originally only used for unlocking the phone, and making iTunes or App Store purchases, in iOS 8 any app can use it. That means that any app that uses a password or needs to keep data secure can start using it. Not only that, but it’s also an important security feature for Apple Pay, Apple’s wireless payments system. Touch ID is simple to set up and easy to use—and makes your phone more secure—so you should use it.

8. Set Up Medical ID
With the addition of the Health app in iOS 8, iPhones and other iOS devices are starting to take important roles in our health. One of the easiest, and potentially most helpful, ways you can take advantage of this is by setting up a Medical ID. This tool lets you add information that you’d want first responders to have in case of a medical emergency. This could include medications you take, serious allergies, emergency contacts—anything someone would need to know when giving you medical attention if you weren’t able to talk. A Medical ID can be a big help, but you have to set it up before you need it or it won’t be able to help you.

9. Learn the Built-In Apps
While the apps you get at the App Store are the ones that get the most hype, the iPhone comes with a pretty great selection of built-in apps, too. Before you dive too far into the App Store, learn how to use the built-in apps for web browsing, email, photos, music, calling, and more.

10. Get New Apps
Once you’ve spent a little time with the built-in apps, your next stop is the App Store, where you can get all kinds of new programs. Whether you’re looking for games or an app to watch Netflix on your iPhone, ideas on what to make for dinner or apps to help you improve your workouts, you’ll find them at the App Store—and usually just for a dollar or two, if not for free.


Microsoft releases free Office apps for iPhone and iPad.

In a rather surprising move, Microsoft has made the Office suite of apps — Word, Excel, and PowerPoint — free to download and use on the iPad and iPhone. Previously, an Office 365 subscription was required — but now, unless you’re a business customer or after some advanced functionality, you can now open and edit Office docs, spreadsheets, and slideshows for free on your iOS device. If all that wasn’t exciting enough, Microsoft also announced that the free Office suite is coming to Android, with beta access starting today. Both the iOS and Android versions of the Office suite have Dropbox integration baked in, following the announcement of a strategic partnership between the two companies earlier this week.

At first glance, it seems odd that Microsoft would give away one of its most lucrative products for free — but don’t worry, it all makes perfect business sense. For most of Microsoft’s life, a huge portion of its profits were derived from sales of the Office suite. Office, much like Windows, was the de facto productivity suite — it was installed on almost every home, school, and work machine. For the longest time, the various Office apps produced file formats that could only be viewed and edited by Office apps — and so it was almost impossible for alternatives to establish a beachhead. However, as the world’s reliance on Windows has diminished — as people move to smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks, and myriad other form factors — Microsoft has been forced to embrace other platforms, adopt open file formats, and generally reassess its strategy.

On the smartphone and tablet, where you can get reasonably good productivity apps for a few dollars (or free), Microsoft doesn’t have much choice than to price Office equivalently. One of the biggest strengths of Office is that, because it’s installed almost everywhere, you can fairly reasonably send a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file to someone and expect that they can: a) open it, and b) probably edit it as well. As more and more of our time is spent on smartphones and tablets, Microsoft has to move quickly to ensure that Office remains dominant in the face of alternative, cheaper, disruptive apps — and thus, here we are, with free versions of the most excellent Office for iOS and Android.

While the Office apps are free for file viewing, editing, and creation, an Office 365 subscription — which is about $10 per month — is still required for some advanced functions, such as column formatting in Word or chart editing in Excel. You’ll also need an Office 365 subscription to open files from a business OneDrive or Dropbox account, which will ensure that corporate and enterprise customers don’t cancel their subscriptions any time soon. All round, this is a very savvy move from Microsoft to ensure the continued reign of Office — and at the same time, boosting its relevance in the mobile computing market.

Source: Extreme Tech

Apps that help you to limit smartphone usage

Smartphone users feeling overwhelmed by the onslaught of communications and devices vying for their time can turn to new apps to help them take a break and concentrate on other things.

More than 70 percent of consumers in the United States own a smartphone and the typical adult spends about 90 minutes a day on their device, an increase of 30 percent since last year, according to global information and measurements company Nielsen.

But new apps aim to make users aware of how much time they spend on their smartphones and to help them limit it.

Offtime is a new app for Android phones, which lets users unplug from their devices without missing anything important.

“We all love our digital devices. But every once in a while we want to take time off, which can be hard when everyone is so connected and you feel as though you’re snubbing people or missing out,” said Michael Dettbarn, co-founder of the Berlin, Germany-based Offtime.

The app tracks how much people use their device and which apps are most time consuming. It also lets users decide how long they would like to stay unplugged, which contacts and apps they want to remain active while all others are temporarily blocked. It also lists events missed during the break period.

“People are starting to notice they check their mobile devices all the time, not because they need to, but more out of habit. We want to help people become more aware of that,” Dettbarn said.

Created by San Francisco-based, Checky tells users how often they check their smartphones each day. The app is free and available worldwide for iOS and Android.

In addition to tracking usage, Moment enables iPhone users to set daily time limits and to receive reminders if they go over. The app, from the Pittsburgh-based Moment, costs $4.99 and is also available worldwide. Moment is currently available only for iOS devices.

Although technology is a good thing, Offtime’s Dettbarn said people need to learn how to manage it.

“Every time a new or revolutionary technology comes out, there is fear about what it will do to society. But the next generations solve the problems and see the benefits,” he noted.

“Soon we will have screens all around us, not just on our mobile devices, but also on the wall or on our wrists. It’s not going to be tolerable to be distracted all the time, so we will need to come up with solutions,” Dettbarn added.


How to save a wet phone or tablet

Rice? Hair dryer? Find out which reliable solution works, and how to prevent a phone or tablet from getting waterlogged in the future.

Most of the old wives’ tales about saving wet phones just don’t work. The bag of rice, a sunny window sill, a hair dryer, and the horrid oven method will quickly get you (and your phone) nowhere.

Having suffered through several waterlogged phones and sacrificial experiments, I’ve found only one unexpected method to be reliable.

If you’re lucky enough to be reading this before any mishap, be sure to stock up on the supplies so that you’re ready when your phone takes a dive.

Step 1. Without wasting time, turn off your phone. Do this within seconds of the accident — even before you dry it off with your t-shirt. The goal is to cut the power before any water has a chance to hit the circuitry and short circuit it.

Step 2. Dry the outside of the phone with a lint-free towel, paying close attention to any ports, speakers, and microphones. Disassemble any parts — like the SIM card and battery — and dry them, too.

Step 3. Place the device and parts in a zip-top storage bag, along with a handful of silica gel packets. These are desiccants often found in new products (like shoes and bags), along with some grocery items (like beef jerky). They’re designed to be very efficient at absorbing moisture.

Collect them as you find them for emergencies like these. Or, you can order silica gel packets online.

Step 4. Wait 72 hours. This is probably the hardest part, but rest assured that you’ll be OK, even if you haven’t checked Instagram in three days.

Step 5. Power your phone on. Three days have passed, giving the desiccants ample time to absorb the moisture. If you did everything right, your phone should be back in business.

A few important notes
Here’s the deal: Much of this method relies on chance and a little luck. The most important part is that you rescued your phone quickly, and that it was powered off before any liquid hit the circuit boards.

Know that even if you were able to revive your phone, there’s a chance that any water contact (or worse, chemical- or salt-laden water contact) will corrode the parts over time. So if a year later, your phone begins to die a slow and painful death, you’ll know why.

Finally, your warranty is void. All phones have a water indicator that tells the manufacturer it went for a swim. The iPhone 5S’s water indicator, for example, can be found inside the SIM card slot. When it gets wet, it changes color from white to red.