Google's Physical Web

The Physical Web is an approach to unleash the core superpower of the web: interaction on demand. People should be able to walk up to any smart device - a vending machine, a poster, a toy, a bus stop, a rental car - and not have to download an app first. Everything should be just a tap away. - Physical Web website

An experimental project by Google, the physical web is open source in hopes that it will lead to the creation of a common web standard that allows any device to interact with any physical object. Imagine a world where you arrive at the bus stop, pull out your phone and it'll tell you when the next bus is due to arrive. No apps, no searching, just information at your finger tips when you need it. That's the dream of the physical web -- to seamlessly integrate our physical world and online one without the need for apps. Read more about the Physical Web.

Bye Bye Windows 7 and 8

Ah, Windows 7. The last familiar OS with the beloved start button that so many Windows 8 users fought for, and received, in 8.1. Sadly, Windows 7 (and 8!) are no more. Microsoft has stopped selling both software versions - Windows 8.1 is the OS that will be available for PCs now. Users who aren't ready for 8.1 may be able to downgrade their OS to Windows 7 Professional (Home Basic, Home Premium and Ultimate versions are no longer available). 

But what next? Windows 10 is due out in 2015, merging the familiarity of the start button of Windows 7 and the Metro interface of Windows 8:

Smartphone = Key

Smartphone used to unlock hotel rooms
Image from Fast Company

As if we weren't reliant enough on our smartphones already, hotels in the Aloft, Element and W chains are pioneering new technology that allows guests to skip checking in at the lobby and head straight to their room. What about a room key? It's in your smartphone. 

The technology uses an app that will alert you of your room number and also act as your key to get in. This is particularly interesting given the Physical Web - how far away are the days when our smartphones replace the next bus screens at a bus stop? The need for a front desk? Physical keys? Yes, there are locks that let you enter in a code and will unlock the door for you, but imagine just walking up to your door and having your smartphone in proximity being good enough to unlock the door. It's a bit like the cars that don't require a key in the ignition, just proximity to a fob on your keychain that authenticates you. Looks like our keychains are going to get a lot lighter and our smartphones a lot more important.

Edit Office Files in Dropbox

Starting 6 November, Dropbox is rolling out the ability to edit Office files in Dropbox to iOS users (Android users will find updated Dropbox and Office apps available in the next few weeks). This means you'll be able to edit Office files from your Dropbox app and the changes will sync across your devices. Including your home computer -- so you can create a file at home and finish it on the go. Have the Office app? You can now save and sync your files directly to Dropbox.

Users of Office 365 can already edit and collaborate on their Office files online so it'll be interesting to see how this Dropbox partnership impacts use of Office 365.

Have we missed something this week? Drop a comment and let me know!