Photos of the month - July 2011
One the most notable events in July came courtesy of Google, which made its most significant foray yet into the social arena with the launch of Google+.
The social service remains in closed beta for now but silicon.com got its hands on a +1 and proceeded to have a poke around.
Pictured above is Google+'s Sparks feature where G+ users can let the search behemoth know the kinds of topics that float their boat - and then get a pipeline of related content delivered to their Google+ Streams. Think of it as RSS for dummies.
For more on Google+, see Inside Google+ - how to use Circles, Hangouts, Sparks and more.
Google software was also under the spotlight in July as we rounded up 20 Android apps for business users.
Among them is Mute-o-matic, an ingenious app that changes the call settings on your phone according to your planned meetings and events.
By entering details of meetings to the app, you can programme your phone to switch itself to silent mode without having to remember to do it yourself. The app also enables you to set a standard reply message to anyone who might call while you're in that meeting.
Mute-o-matic allows different settings to be applied to different callers, so you can set the phone to ring if the boss calls while keeping everyone else on silent.
To find out which other apps made our top 20, see Top 10 BlackBerry PlayBook accessories for business.
Android also appeared in another photo story, this time by sister site CNET, which examined the most prominent mobile OSes - Android, BlackBerry OS, iOS, webOS and Windows Phone 7 - to see how each platform's homescreen, notifications, multitasking, web browser and app store compare.
Shown above is the notification system used by iOS and Android. The iPhone uses a push notification system that alerts you to new messages, voicemail and notifications from third-party apps through a series of alerts, sounds and badges. It's not very streamlined and can be pretty disruptive, especially if you have notifications enabled for a number of apps.
Fortunately, the system is changing with iOS 5, which is due out this autumn. As shown here, you'll now be able to swipe down from the top of the screen and see all your notifications in one place.
Google got notifications right from the get-go. The pull-down notifications tray was present on the very first Android device, the T-Mobile G1, and it's still present on all Android phones today. Small icons on the top toolbar give you visual cues to alert you to new messages, missed calls and so forth, at which point you can pull down the tray to get more info and launch the appropriate apps.
For more head-to-head comparisons, see Mobile OS face-off - Android, BlackBerry, iOS, webOS and Windows Phone compared.
There was no shortage of tablets emerging in July, among them the Sony S1 and S2 devices.
The two gadgets have a slightly different spin on the tablet form factor - the S1 has a wedge shape, while the S2 features a folding, clamshell design.
For a closer look at the pair, see Sony's S1 and S2 Android tablets - a first look.
silicon.com took a look at a more traditional tablet last month - the Fujitsu Stylistic Q550.
The slate is aimed firmly at business users with a Microsoft infrastructure and runs Windows 7. In a nod to the heritage of the tablet, the Stylistic Q550 is designed to be used with a stylus.
To get hands-on with the tablet, see Fujitsu's Q550 Windows 7 tablet goes back to the future with stylus.
If you're an iPad user and outside the UK, July brought some good news for you: BBC Worldwide announced the launch of an international iPlayer app for the Apple tablet.
The app will initially be available in 11 Western European countries and includes current and archive BBC programming divided into eight genres as shown on the menu above.
To find out what else iPlayer has in store for iPad users outside the UK, see BBC iPlayer iPad app goes international.
For those who've made the BlackBerry PlayBook their tablet of choice, silicon.com last month picked out the top 10 accessories for the RIM slate.
The round-up featured the OtterBox PlayBook Defender Case, a rugged case for the tablet, made with a high-impact polycarbonate shell and a silicone skin with a clear membrane protecting the camera and screen.
The case provides robust protection for the PlayBook - useful if the device is to be used by multiple people in an office or shop floor environment.
To see more add-ons for your RIM tablet, check out Top 10 BlackBerry PlayBook accessories for business.
For those who prefer their tablet Apple-flavoured, silicon.com rounded up the top 10 iPad accessories for business users.
Pictured above is iPad Hut's waterproof iPad case, which becomes 100 per cent waterproof when sealed, ideal for protecting the iPad from knocked over cups of coffee at heated board meetings - or pints during 'off-site meetings'.
To see which other extras made our list, read Top 10 iPad accessories for business users.
iPads may be all the rage, but Apple hasn't left behind its Mac heritage with July seeing the launch of updated MacBook Airs.
Apple unveiled the laptops - one 11-inch, one 13-inch - with new Intel Sandy Bridge CPU options, a data port for high-speed Thunderbolt peripherals and backlit keyboards.
For a closer look at the laptops, see Apple's two new MacBook Air laptops.
With all of the buzz around tablet computing at the moment, car maker Renault has jumped on the bandwagon by integrating a BlackBerry Playbook tablet with its latest concept car.
The Frendzy is designed to combine work with play and can be used as a delivery van or be converted to seat more people for more family-focused activities. It integrates a PlayBook so users can keep up to date with work using the device and also control the rather nifty video screen on the side of the car, as seen above.
To find out the other clever ways in which the car makes use of technology, take a look at Renault Frendzy - the concept car for both work and PlayBook.
Hardware of a very different stripe made our silicon.com photo stories with the news that the University of Exeter has created a machine that can print 3D objects - like the one above - in chocolate.
The University's research team initially found chocolate a difficult medium to work with as it requires precise heating and cooling cycles that had to be integrated with flow rates for the 3D printing process. However, they successfully developed a temperature control system that enables chocolate to be printed by the machine.
To find out how it works, see Come in Willy Wonka, your time is up - meet the printer that prints in chocolate.
The University of Leeds, meanwhile, revealed its latest creation - a super-sized worm robot based on the C elegans nematode worm.
The worm bot is the result of engineering fellow Dr Jordan Boyle's research into how the nervous system of the worm works to propel the creature along. Boyle envisages a developed version of his worm bot one day being used to locate and help victims of natural disasters.
To learn what makes the worm bot different from other snake-like robots and how it could potentially be used in medicine, check out Giant robot worm to the rescue.
Further afield, July saw silicon.com catching up with the progress of Computer Aid's Zubabox internet cafés.
Computer Aid International has delivered three of these solar-powered cyber cafés housed in old shipping containers so far and is now appealing for organisations to sponsor 10 more to go to other rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa and to be used in disaster zones.
Pictured above is the ZubaBox cyber café recently delivered to the village of Chikanta in Zambia.
To learn more about the ZubaBoxes, see The solar-powered internet cafés connecting rural Africa.
silicon.com also took a look at the broadband situation closer to home last month when telecoms regulator Ofcom published an interactive map of the UK showing broadband data for each local authority.
The city with the highest take-up of fixed broadband services is Brighton and Hove, with an 80 per cent take-up rate, according to Ofcom's report.
To see more maps showing how broadband coverage differs in the UK, click Broadband Britain mapped - the high-speed and the not-spots revealed.
Also making an appearance last month was a former BT Red Phone Box which has had a makeover after a community adopted the box under the telco's £1 adoption scheme.
Instead of a phone, the kiosk now contains a defibrillator machine, pictured above, which the rural village of Lower Slaughter in Gloucestershire hopes could prove a lifesaver if a member of the community suffers a heart attack.
For more on the new kiosk, see BT red phone boxes get heart-starting makeover.
silicon.com found more technology cropping up in interesting places in July. Interxion's City of London datacentre, nestled alongside curry houses and fabric merchants in the capital's famous Brick Lane, was recently extended. silicon.com got some behind-the-scenes pics showing how the facility fits in with its urban surroundings.
Shown above is the datacentre's heat exchange units which help cool the facility. They're located on the roof of the datacentre and are protected from lightning strikes by the metal rods above.
To take a tour of Interxion's City of London facility, check out The mantrapped datacentre in the heart of Brick Lane.
Mashing up enterprise and consumer tech was also something of a theme in July. Autonomy's Aurasma augmented reality smartphone app is now being used as a marketing tool by a number of companies including media agency Mediacom and luxury yacht maker Wally.
Shown above is the app being used on a newspaper advert for Wally in which it overlays the ad with a video trailer related to the company's nautical products.
To find out how else Aurasma is being used, check out From yachts to shoes and movies - how marketers are using augmented reality.
Tech giants Google and SAP teamed up to make business intelligence a little more visual in July. Google Maps and Google Earth are being incorporated into SAP's BI software so users can make quicker decisions based on the data presented in geographical terms.
Shown above is a Google Earth image within a SAP application related to freight operations at Frankfurt airport. The application shows aircraft hangars and warehouses and the number of parcels that have arrived or are waiting to be despatched.
To see how else the Google software is being used in SAP's products, take a look at Google Maps gives SAP's business intelligence a new direction.