Archive for June 5, 2017

Planner 5D Brings Floor Planning & Interior Design into STEM Education

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 5, 2017 by itnerd

Seeing the future in technology and adaptive skill learning, the governments around the world are investing in STEM education, and schools are increasingly looking for ways give more attention to these subjects of the future. While STEM is the focus of many schools, the way that academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics are being taught in many places is still ‘old-fashioned,’ and not engaging enough for Generation Z students.

However, many factors indicate that 2017 will be the year when major changes start happening in the classrooms: more and more schools will be integrating digital tools to help the learning process.

For example, Minecraft, beloved by children worldwide, has rolled out its Education Edition last year, which is already taking classrooms by storm, and is being used by teachers to enhance students’ STEM skills, collaboration and creativity.

The new app that is currently entering the classrooms is Planner 5D, an immersive floor planning and interior design tool with 18 million users worldwide. Planner 5D helps create floor plans, customize furniture and interact with other users. As a classroom tool, it will merge both art and science disciplines, expose students to a variety of industries, and help them develop interests in specific areas.

Planner 5D will lead students into integrating mathematics into different steps of creation, and will teach the basics of architecture and engineering. Students will be able to apply measurements into floor planning, learn accuracy, the basics of interior design and even see their projects come alive in virtual reality.

According to recent studies, 65% of Generation Z students say apps help them learn better, pointing to an ever-growing desire for interactive learning. “Students learn real life skills with interactive apps, and they enjoy the process, so going to school and studying STEM can become a fun experience they look forward to,” says Alexey Sheremetyev.

Planner 5D is perfect for implementing homework tasks or group projects to learn collaboration, and allows to design your dream home using math, aesthetics and creativity. The tool works on any browser without plug-ins or installations, and is created for all major platforms, including iOS, Google and Android.

The features of Planner 5D – interactivity, virtual reality, simulation video game technology, and adaptive learning – are already listed among top ed tech trends for 2017, which is a major shift from the linear teacher-student form of learning.

To learn more, please visit Planner 5D’s website. Or take a look at this video:

 

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Canada Post & PayPal Partner To Help Canadian SMBs

Posted in Commentary with tags , on June 5, 2017 by itnerd

PayPal Canada and Canada Post today announced a new integrated payment and shipping solution for solopreneurs, small businesses and casual sellers. This integration aims to make e-commerce more easily accessible for entrepreneurs and small businesses including 83 per cent of Canadian small and mid-sizes businesses that currently do not sell online.

Before the launch of this solution, sellers would receive orders, often write the labels manually and then visit a Canada Post retail outlet to ship the parcels. With this new integrated payment and shipping solution, online sellers can track their orders, print shipping labels and pay for shipping seamlessly using their PayPal account. This new functionality automatically sends tracking information and delivery confirmation alerts to both the seller and the customer once a shipping label is created. For small businesses, the days of tracking orders in their PayPal account and subsequently visiting a physical Canada Post location to fulfill customer orders are over. With this new solution, users can schedule a parcel pick-up from Canada Post thereby saving time to drop off parcels to customers locally or internationally.

Sellers can easily link their PayPal and Canada Post Solutions for Small Business account and be eligible to receive significant savings on domestic and international shipments. Until July 31, 2017, eligible businesses can save an additional 15 per cent on Expedited Parcel when shipping within Canada.

More information about the service can be found at:www.paypal.ca/canadapost. If however, you’d like to see a video of the solution, here you go:

So, What Did Apple Announce At WWDC 2017?

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 5, 2017 by itnerd

Today was the keynote for the annual Apple World Wide Developer Conference (aka WWDC), and it was expected that iOS 11, macOS 10.13, tvOS 11 and watchOS 4 would be announced as that fits the pattern of previous WWDC keynotes. But rumors of new MacBook Pros, new iPads, and maybe even a Siri based Amazon Echo competitor have been floating around for weeks. So, what did Apple Actually announce? Here’s a list of the key announcements that will matter to you…. I suggest you have a coffee handy as I go through them:

  • On the tvOS front, not a whole lot was announced. Amazon Prime Video is coming to the TV app and all Apple TVs later this year. But no new version of tvOS was announced. Having said that, more news on this front was promised “later this year” which I would guess would be September or October from previous experience.
  • watchOS 4 was announced today. There’s a new Siri watch face as well as a complication on the top-left corner. The watch face dynamically updates with reminders, traffic, sunset times, HomeKit controls, and more, all using Siri proactive intelligence. There are new watch faces that include characters from the Disney movie Toy Story. Apple is also introducing new monthly Activity challenges for those of you (like me) who like the Apple Watch to drive their fitness activities. Plus they’ve enhanced the Workout app for Apple Watch as well. For those of you who like music, Apple is redesigning the Music app on Apple Watch to include album art and playlist images along with support for multiple playlists. For example, you can pick a playlist that automatically starts with your Workout. When you’re in a Workout, you can swipe to the left and control the music directly in the app. Oh, there’s going to be a flashlight in the control center just like iOS and screen auto-rotate. Finally, there’s a new vertical dock to make accessing your favorite apps easier.
  • The next major version of macOS is called macOS High Sierra. This is going to be one of those names where the jokes will write themselves. In any case, the keky enhancements include Safari now having autoplay blocking which detects sites that autoplay video and blocks playback. Safari also has Intelligent Tracking Prevention. It uses machine learning to identify trackers, segregate the cross-site scripting data. Now this isn’t about ad blocking. It’s about privacy. The Photos app has new organizational and editing tools including a new imports view in chronological order that can be filtered. Apple File System (APFS) which was promised in macOS Sierra is finally coming to High Sierra. I will believe it when it actually ships. macOS High Sierra is building in hardware and software acceleration for H.265 encoding for video. HEVC hardware acceleration for newer Macs. macOS High Sierra is available as a developer beta today. Public beta will be available in late June. A Free upgrade in the Fall. You can check this Wikipedia page to see all the things that High Sierra could possibly mean.
  • New iMac models were announced today which surprised me. They include the latest Intel Kaby Lake processors. Other features include Up to 32GB RAM on 21.5-inch iMac. Up to 64GB on RAM on 27-inch iMac. Fusion Drives are standard on all 27-inch iMac configurations and high-end 21.5-inch iMac. Up to 50% faster SSDs with up to 2TB storage. Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 (integrated) and discrete graphics in 21.5-inch iMac include AMD Radeon Pro 555 & 560 GPUs with up to 4GB VRAM. Finally, there’s a much brighter screen and two Thunderbolt 3 ports on the back. Pricing in USD goes something like this: 21.5-inch iMac starts at $1,099. 4K 21.5-inch iMac starts at $1,299. 5K 27-inch iMac starts at $1,799. The machine will be VR friendly.
  • Another thing that I never saw coming is that the iMac Pro was announced which may be a replacement for the Mac Pro which is in desperate need of a redo. You can configure it with up to 18-cores of Xeon processing glory, Radeon Vega graphics. Up 128GB ECC RAM and up to 16GB of VRAM. Up to 400 Gbps of memory bandwidth. Up to 11 Teraflops of single-precision computation. Up to 22 Teraflops of half-precision computation. iMac Pro starts at $4,999 USD and will be available in December.
  • The MacBook and MacBook Pro got some Intel Kaby Lake love as well, along with Up to 50% faster SSDs and faster standard graphics on new 15-inch MacBook Pro. Pricing in USD goes something like this: 12-inch MacBook starts at $1,299. 13-inch MacBook Pro with function keys starts at $1,299 or $1,799 with Touch Bar. 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar starts at $2,399. These will start shipping TODAY.
  • Almost as an afterthought, the MacBook Air is apparently going to get a “bump” in speed as well. The new MacBook Air is also shipping today.
  • iOS 11 was announced.  iMessage is getting a redesigned app drawer that makes it easier to use apps and stickers. Plus iMessage is also getting optimized device storage and smaller and faster backups on iOS and macOS with messages stored and synced in the cloud across devices. Apple is introducing Apple Pay person to person payments in iOS 11, integrated into Messages as a Messages app. Plus Siri will be smarter and sound more natural thanks to deep learning and on device learning that will be encrypted. Siri will translate (in beta form) English to Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, with more language combinations to follow. There’s also going to be an improved Photos app and a revamp of Control Center. The iOS 11 developer preview is available today. Public beta will be available in late June.
  • Speaking of making Siri smarter, Apple is releasing a new set of APIs to make it easier for developers to incorporate machine learning into their apps. Deep neural networks, support vector machines, and other models. On-device processing with data privacy across iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS.
  • From the “Finally!” category, Apple Maps is getting lane guidance and speed limit display which Apple Maps really needed to bring it to close to to feature parity with Google Maps. Apple Maps is also getting detailed floor plans for major airports, and floor plans for shopping malls in in Boston, Chicago, Hong Kong, London, and several other major cities.
  • Apple is introducing an optional “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature in iOS 11 to prevent distracted driving. Yes, that’s the actual name of the feature. Minus 10 points for lack of creativity.
  • HomeKit is getting a bit of a boost in the form of AirPlay 2 which supports multi-room audio. Plus there’s a “Shared Up Next” feature for AirPlay 2 where multiple users can create a playlist for a party.
  • Apple Music will be getting MusicKit which will allow developers to get access to Apple Music. There will also be social integration to see what your friends are listening to, complete with profiles and shared playlists.
  • The App Store app on iOS 11 is getting a complete redesign starting with a new Today tab to discover apps and read stories about the developers who created them, and a dedicated Games tab and Apps tab for apps that aren’t games.
  • Augmented reality creation is coming to developers with ARKit. Which means we’ll see AR in apps soon”ish”.
  • There’s an all new iPad Pro that was announced today with a 10.5 inch screen with a thinner bezel while still weighing under 1 pound. The screen is a True Tone display, with a wide color gamut, ultra-low reflective properties, with up to 600 nits brightness, 120Hz refresh rates, and HDR video. It’s getting a  A10X Fusion chip which is a six-core CPU with three high-performance cores and three high-efficiency cores. Plus a GPU that is 40% faster than before. It comes with USB 3, 12-megapixel rear-facing iSight camera and 7-megapixel front-facing FaceTime camera. The same updates are coming to the 12.9 inch iPad Pro. Both 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro will start with 64GB of base storage. 10.5-inch iPad Pro will start at $649. 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $799. 256GB and 512GB storage capacities available for both models. All prices USD. You can order them today and they’ll ship next week.
  • iPad Pros are getting iOS features that are unique to them. Specifically the dock, drag and drop, a redesigned app switcher, and an enhanced QuickType keyboard. Apple has also introduced a new iPad app called Files which allows you to brows the file system on the iPad and supports third-party cloud storage providers such as Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive.
  • Tim Cook in the keynote actually used the words “one last thing to talk to you about” which is a version of Steve Jobs catchphrase “there’s one more thing.” Cute. But in any case, the one last thing was “a breakthrough home speaker.” After seriously dissing Sonos and Amazon Echo speakers, Apple then announced the HomePod which rolls up with an A8 chip, seven tweeters, precision acoustic horns with directional control and an Apple designed woofer. The speaker has the ability look at its surroundings and use beamforming to direct sound and give you the best music experience. HomePod is designed to work with Apple Music and supports Siri commands for playing music via a six microphone array. Besides music, it will do the usual sorts of things that Hey Siri can do. Expect to drop $349 in December for one. But only in the US, UK and Australia to start (What? No Canada at launch? WTF Apple?).

That’s it. And it was a lot. Is there one thing that catches your eye? If so, please leave a comment below with your thoughts.

UPDATE: The video of the keynote has been posted here.