This week in your world of Android: the new HTC One leaked in an extensive hands-on video, the Paranoid Android team revealed plans for the future, updates rolled out to several Google apps, the Galaxy S4 began receiving the KitKat update, the Oppo Find 7 was in the news, and Samsung introduced its new Milk Music service.
These are the essential stories, the summary of an entire week in just a few words. It’s Android Weekly.
Hands-on with the all new HTC One
Killing much of the suspense around the upcoming new HTC One, an eight-minute hands-on video of the device emerged at the beginning of this week. March 25 can’t come soon enough!
The popular custom ROM is being rebuilt from scratch on a KitKat base, announced the Paranoid Android team. The focus of the project, moving forward, will be to deliver a stock-like appearance with smooth integration of high-quality added features.
On Wednesday, Google began rolling out updates to several of its apps, including Chrome Beta, Play Games, and Play Music. But the sweetest update is probably the introduction of high-quality voices to the Text-to-Speech engine – your phone can now talk to you in the finest British accent.
Chinese up and comer Oppo is gearing up to release the Find 7 on March 19, and one of its coolest features could be a super sharp camera. The device will come in two variants, and one of them will have a Quad HD display, revealed the company this week.
It might not be the Google smartwatch revelation that some might have been waiting for, but it might be the next best thing. Google SVP Sundar Pichai announced at SxSW that the company will be making available in two weeks a sofware development kit (SDK) based on Android that manufacturers and developers can use for their next hit smart something.
The description of the SDK is pretty generic and pretty vague. All Pichai says about it at this point is that it will help developers to take a couple of sensor data and combine them into something more usable. If that sounds like it could cover a wide range of sensors, applications, and devices, it is precisely because Google isn’t limiting its vision to smart glasses and smartwatches alone.
The wearable device market is still in its infancy and there is still a lot of room for innovation. We have seen some of those at work, like contact lenses that assist diabetics monitor their sugar levels, shirts that help athletes keep track of their heart rates, or even clothing and accessories that alert parents to their baby’s needs. None of these are devices you strap to your wrist or put on your head.
Google will be leaving it up to other parties to think of the use cases the SDK will be applied to. There is, however, still some lingering questions whether Google will be eating its own SDK dogfood for its rummored smartwatch or if it will use a slightly different software based on Google Now, as some rumors put it.
Ever get an iMessage on your iPhone from someone you know that contains smiley or frowny faces, or even pictures of animals or cars, flowers or dancers, space ships or iPhones, and wonder how they did it? In the old days it was emoticons. Now it’s emoji. Every iPhone and iPad has the ability to send and receive them. All you have to do is turn them on!
The unique button layout at the rear of the current crop of LG smartphones has a lot of advantages, allowing for a clean front design, and for some, a convenient and easier way to access the power button and volume rocker. First introduced with the LG G2, and now a feature of the G Pro 2 as well, the only issue with this positioning is that it’s obviously impossible to access the buttons while the smartphone is kept face up on a surface, requiring you to pick up the device every time you want to unlock it.
To circumvent this issue, LG introduced a software feature called Knock On with the LG G2, which allowed you to double tap the screen to wake the device, and has now expanded and improved on this with the LG G Pro 2 (and the LG G2 Mini). Here’s a closer look at Knock Code!
To set up Knock Code, you need to go into Lock Screen options in the Settings menu. Opening up the set up page gives you a short explanation on what Knock Code. Basically, instead of a double tap to wake the device, Knock Code allows you to input a unique pattern in a four square grid to not only wakes the phone, but unlocks it.
Going over to the next screen, you’ll find the grid where you can input your Knock Code. Number of taps can range between two and eight, and you can select which way the pattern will go. You will have to re-enter this pattern to confirm your selection. The next page shows you the area where the grid is, and then asks you to set up a back PIN in case you forget your code. Confirming this PIN is the final step before you’re all set.
All you need to do is envision a 2 x 2 grid on the screen, tap in your selected Knock Code, and you’ll be taken directly to your home screen, saving the extra step of unlocking it while using Knock On. It’s really nice and easy to use, and there are numerous patterns you can choose.
So there you have it, a look at the Knock Code feature with the LG G Pro 2. With the different button positions on this device, such a feature is definitely a necessity, and it’s great to see LG working to improve the functionality with every iteration.
Bluetooth-enabled tracking tags for finding keys and other household items aren’t anything new, but a particularly robust tag called PebbleBee hit Kickstarter recently that introduces a few new tricks. The main use case here is so that you get a buzz on your iPhone if your child goes outside of a certain range, or if you forget your keys at a coffee shop. There are two models PebbleBee has introduced: the Honey and the Hornet.
The Honey sports an internal speaker and LED to help you find lost items using your iPhone. It includes a keyring loop and an adhesive-friendly back, depending on where you want to affix it, and is sealed for water resistance. A multi-function button is embedded on the side, which can buzz your phone, initiate a call on the paired phone, and a few other tasks. The Hornet includes all of that, plus temperature alerts and detailed motion tracking thanks to a 9-axis gyroscope and compass, with either live or replay data on your iPhone.
Battery life lasts for 3 years with intermittent usage, and unlike Tile, the battery is replaceable. If they meet a stretch goal of 0,000, the PebbleBee guys will even be able to make a wireless charger. On the social front, you can allow other trusted contacts to track your PebbleBee tags, or if you lose something far away, can mark an item as lost, and give the PebbleBee community at large to find the item for you.
On the developer side, an API will be available, though there aren’t any examples of it in action just yet. It would be great to see these tying in with smartwatches and other wearables, so you wouldn’t have to take out your phone to see that a tagged object is out of range. In the case of motion tracking, however, one could see how a Hornet might functionally replace more fitness-oriented wearables.
Though I find XY has a bit more style, it’s hard to beat PebbleBee’s feature set. I’ve been getting a lot of use out of the Elgato SmartKey, but PebbleBee is showing that there are many other use cases than just finding your stuff. So far the only other product that really matches PebbleBee in terms of features is Linquet.
Each PebbleBee Honey is going for , and the PebbleBee Hornets are a pop. You can get a little bit of both at the 3 backer tier and be rewarded with three Honeys and three Hornets. They’re even tossing in a free colored bumper for hitting the first stretch goal. The PebbleBee has already blown past its ,000 goal, and currently sits at over ,000 raised and under 20 days left to go. More info on backer tiers and stretch goals can be found on Kickstarter. Any takers?
Display: 1080 x 1920 pixels, 4.95 inches (~445 ppi pixel density) True HD IPS Plus capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
Storage: 16/32 GB,
Battery: Non-removable Li-Po 2300 mAh battery
Main camera: 8 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, autofocus, optical image stabilization, LED flash
Front camera: Yes, 1.3 MP
OS: Android OS, v4.4 (KitKat)
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Dave Hopkinson is the CCO at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and due to that job, he’s a busy fellow with needs for a device with a long lasting battery. In his case, that would be a [#protected_0#]. A new BlackBerry ad featuring him has now landed on the official BlackBerry YouTube page and this time around, it’s featuring the kinda new for a video ad slogan “Powered by BlackBerry”.
You may not have heard of Lumus, but they are on track to teach Google a thing or two in the eyeglass department of modern wearables. If you are an F16 fighter pilot, you probably already know Lumus for the really cool see-through heads-up display attached to your flight helmet. The rest of us get to learn about Lumus, and hope their OEM efforts are successful, as they show off a pair of concept consumer level smart glasses.
Lumus is not exactly looking to get into the wearables market themselves. Their two consumer level smart glasses, the DK-40 single lense and the DK-32 dual lense, are still in development, and may never go into production. Their main focus is to be the supplier of their Optical Engine Module (OEM) to other manufacturers.
The OEM, is Lumus’ sub-assembled unit, combining their micro-display pod and Lumus Light-guide Optical Element (LOE) lens. If I had to generalize all this, I would simply call the OEM a computer display unit. A vendor would therefore need only add frames, a computer and a power source to turn the OEM into glasses. The micro-display pod of the OEM is capable of firing out 720p, 1280 x 720, video. The lense, which is more of an actual eyeglass lense compared to Google Glass‘ display, is only 1.6mm thick and completely see-through. Both Google Glass and Lumus utilize beam splitting in their lenses to direct a projected image toward your eye. Glass has a single splitter, that frosty cube looking thing. Lumus’ lense includes several smaller splitters working as one, which allows it to be thinner, see-through and provide a larger image size.
Lumus’ lense technology is able to display the equivalent of an 87″ screen at 10ft away, covering 40° of your field of view. Due to the lense being 78% transparent, the image is able to sit directly in the center of your field of view, allowing you to see the display and the real world behind it simultaneously.
Aside from military applications, there are a few vendors that have put the Lumus OEM to use. One such wearables maker, Meta, has built a set of dual lense, 3D augmented reality glasses called the Meta Pro. The Meta Pro unit can mirror your smartphone display and functionality, and allows you to control your device using in-air hand gestures. However, Meta Pro encases the Lumus lenses into, what appear to be, oversized dark sunglasses and are suited to laboratory, or living room, use. The inability to wear Meta Pro throughout the day, combined with a 50 price tag, may not give Google much to worry about, yet.
Google’s Glass does face significant conceptual competition in Lumus’ own DK-40 and DK-32 glasses. Both sets utilize the Lumus OEM – the DK-32 uses the full 720p resolution and 40° field of view video in a dual lense setup, allowing for full 3D immersion. The new DK-40 model is a single lense solution that uses a slightly downgraded VGA resolution over 25° of your field of view. In place of the superior video, they have added motion sensors and a 5MP camera, allowing you to control the device with hand gestures, as well as perform other camera related functions. DK-40 also has a full copy of Android installed, offering a very compelling full computing experience that Glass should be paying attention to.
Here is a short CBS clip on Lumus, featuring head of Business Development Ari Grobman showing off a pair of older DK-32 dual lense glasses. Grobman explains the idea of cutting the wires to the DK-32, making it wirelessly connect to your smartphone – this is exactly what the DK-40 brings to the table.
Lumus offers no timeframe for any consumer ready smart glasses, speculating that most major vendors are watching where Google goes with their Glass. Certainly, Google has experienced the hardships that come with being a pioneer of an industry.
Are you looking forward to eyeglasses being the next wave of wearable technology? Do you think that situating the image in the center of your field of view will prevent all day use of the Lumus glasses?
If you’re unlucky enough to live in one of the regions — like most of the United States and Canada — where spring means pushing the clocks forward an hour in what’s called Daylight Savings Time but is better thought of as Lose an Hour of Sleep Night, then it’s time once again to do just that. And because the iPhone and iPad have historically had as much trouble handling the change as we humans, you might want to make sure you give yourself a backup alarm backup for the evening and double-check your iOS time against some other source as soon as you wake up.
Once you’re certain you’ll be waking up when you’re supposed to — or sleeping an hour later than normal! — let me know what you think about the idea of Daylight Savings Time in general? Personally I want to kill it with fire.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a visit to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California where he met with Apple’s CEO, [#protected_0#]. The above video of the meeting is from the Israeli Prime Minister’s YouTube account.