While Project Ara is more immediately aimed at providing a commercial solution for improving the lives of smartphone users around the globe, the equally ambitious Project Tango is currently geared towards developers and organizations looking to find unique ways to make use a device that is essentially aware of its own surroundings.
Project Tango utilizes a pair of cameras and an infrared projector to measure depth and observe movement, and then takes this information and creates a 3D map of the space around it. Aside from this, the specs inside the Tango ‘phone’ aren’t much different from your typical handset, such as its quad-core SoC and 2GB of RAM.
Google and NASA are working to integrate Tango with NASA’s own robotic platform, SPHERES.
Project Tango has a lot of potential, and Google has already been releasing the device into the hands of various partners over the last couple months. One of these partners is NASA, and today Google revealed a bit about what NASA intends to do with Project Tango.
Project Tango and it role in SPHERES
Since the summer of 2013, Google ATAP’s Tango team has been working closely with a NASA team at the Ames Research Center. The focus of their relationship has been on working to integrate Tango with NASA’s own robotic platform, called SPHERES.
The goal of the SPHERES platform is basically to create autonomous robotic assistants that can eventually handle the more menial tasks for those aboard the ISS space station. Where does Tango play into all this? Basically the smartphone plugs into the SPHERES robotic prototype, providing it with the “eyes” needed to properly navigate around the space station.
When might SPHERES and Tango actually make their way beyond testing and into space? Sooner then you’d think. If all goes well, Project Tango and SPHERES should be launched into orbit later this summer. This is certainly a unique use of the technology behind Project Tango and makes it clear that Tango’s long-term effects could go way beyond simply giving us a cool 3D sensing handset to play around with.
While Google hasn’t officially announced the Chromecast for any country outside the U.S. yet, we know it’s coming soon, and one U.K. retailer already has a listing for the media streaming stick.
Currys, a major retail chain in the U.K., already has a listing for the Google Chromecast on its website before the official availability announcement. The page doesn’t list a shipping date for the device, and lists it as currently out of stock with no estimate for when it will be in stock.
The page’s description for the Chromecast doesn’t include any new details of the device, though it does list a price for the device. Currys prices the Google Chromecast at £30, or about . That’s a bit more than the U.S. users have to pay to get the device, but the markup isn’t all that surprising.
The Chromecast is slated to come to more countries by the end of March, which means this Currys listing will probably list the device as in stock sometime in the next two weeks. Presumably other retailers will carry the streaming stick when Google is ready to release it internationally as well.
Are you excited about the Chromecast coming to other countries?
Launch Center Pro lets you create actions for all the things you do regularly on your iPhone and iPad, from emailing a specific person to sending a boilerplate text message, it can do it all. What’s more, if you create a particularly cool action, you can easily share it with friends, families, co-workers… anyone at all!
How to share an action in Launch Center Pro for iPhone and iPad
Open the Launch Center Pro app on your iPhone or iPad.
Tap the Edit button in the upper right hand corner.
Tap on the action you’d like to share.
In the next menu, tap on Share Action.
Safari should now launch and show you some information about your action. Fill in anything you’d like the person to know and remove any personal information. Then tap on Create.
*Copy the URL** from the Address Bar.
Share the URL with anyone you’d like to have the action.
The person you shared it with can just go to the URL and Launch Center Pro can import the action all on its own.
If you use Launch Center Pro, have you ever shared actions with other people? And if you have any cool actions you’ve created, feel free to share their URLs in the comments below along with a description of what it does!
Next Wednesday 19 March sees the official launch of one of the biggest products this year from Google.
UK consumers will no longer have to import the Chromecast from the US starting this Wednesday, March 19. According to an anonymously leaked Dixons Retail internal communication, the Chromecast will go on sale in UK stores starting at 9am on Wednesday. Thus ending the US exclusivity of the Chromecast.
Google Chromecast is a small HDMI dongle that plugs into your television. Once the simple setup is completed, users can then cast content from an Android device or Chrome web browser tab to the TV. At launch, there were only a handful of services, mostly Google’s, that worked with the Chromecast. Adoption of Chromecast by developers was troubled and slow until Google finally released the SDK earlier this year. New apps, features and uses have been springing up frequently since then.
The Chromecast faces competition in a number of devices, such as the Roku and Belkin’s Miracast. These competitors have had international markets to themselves, until now. We are very excited to see the Chromecast launch in the UK this week, and hope that this opens the floodgates to other international markets.
One final mystery to UK Chromecast sales still remains, the price tag. Chromecast has been selling well for here in the states, often given as a free add-on with other device and service purchases. Hopefully we’ll find out the UK price before official launch, but with that being only a few days away, we’ll know soon enough.
How many of you will be lined up at Currys’ door for 9am this Wednesday?
How to add an app to Launch Center Pro for iPhone and iPad
Open Launch Center Pro on your iPhone or iPad.
Tap on the Edit button in the upper right hand corner.
Here you can either tap on an empty square in the main screen to add an action, or open a group and create one within. In this example, I’m going to create an action inside the Apps group.
Now tap on Action Composer.
Choose an app category. Again this choice is yours and you can browse through each section to see which apps they contain.
Tap on the app name in order to start creating an action. In my example, I’ll choose Fantastical.
For this example, I just want the app to launch so I’ll select Launch Fantastical 2.
Give your action a name if you haven’t already and then tap Done in the upper right hand corner.
Tap on Done on more time to confirm.
That’s it, you’re now ready to start using your new action.
How to launch an app with Launch Center Pro for iPhone and iPad
Open Launch Center Pro on your iPhone or iPad.
Tap on your action to launch the chosen app or tap and hold on a group to expand it.
Now slide your finger to the action inside the group and release it on the action.
That’s it. The selected app will launch instantly.
Launching apps with Launch Center Pro is a great alternative to using folders that you have to continuously open and thumb through. Give it a try and tell us what you think as opposed to using folders!
The Wall Street Journal confirms in a new report that Nokia is going to release an Android-powered smartphone at the Mobile World Congress later this month.
The device will be “tailored in a way that won’t promote some of the key Google-developed features that a more traditional Android-powered phone might”, say people familiar with the matter cited by the WSJ. In other words, despite some speculation of the contrary, Nokia is indeed forking Android, and its devices won’t be compatible with Google’s Play store and other set of applications. Instead of Google’s apps like Gmail and Maps, the device will feature apps from Nokia and Microsoft, including the Here map service and the Mix Radio music service. Nokia will also be offering an app store of its offering Android apps.
As previously reported, Nokia was working on this Android fork back when Microsoft was preparing to make an offer for the Finnish company in the summer of last year. Microsoft is said to have several reasons for using Android along with its own Windows Phone operating system, including the need to utilize Nokia’s manufacturing capabilities and to offset some of the high costs of running its mobile division. Another big reason is, according to the WSJ’s sources, the fact that Windows Phone cannot run on low-end devices, forcing Microsoft to be “pragmatic” and adopt software made by its fiercest competitor for the entry-level smartphone segment.
Nokia sent out invitations for an MWC event scheduled for the morning of February 24, which in the light of this report, seems a safe bet for the debut of Normandy. The theme of the event is “Under the Tree”, a possible clue to the commercial name of Nokia’s forked Android implementation.
Will be at MWC 2014, and Nokia will definitely be high on our priority list. What do you hope to see?
For 2014, HTC is betting on more devices and a renewed focus on marketing. After “years of development,” the company will launch its first wearable device by the end of the year.
Company executives talked to Bloomberg about the challenges and opportunities awaiting HTC, after a year of falling sales and financial losses. To fix the problems that beset it in 2013, HTC promised to diversify its product range and focus more on marketing. CFO and head of global sales Chang Chialin declared himself “positive and optimistic”, while Chairwoman Wang said the company would finally release a wearable by Christmas.
After “years of development and technical challenges” HTC is positive it solved some of the core problems that affect the wearable user experience, including battery life:
Many years ago, we started looking at smartwatches and wearables, but we believe that we really have to solve the battery problems and the LCD light problems. These are customer-centric problems.
Wang admitted that, despite bold statements from last year, marketing is still not a major preoccupation for HTC: “To tell the truth, we never think marketing is that important — this is really not very good.” The company plans to use its marketing budget smarter, though it won’t necessarily increase spending. Last year, HTC contracted Robert Downey Jr for a billion marketing campaign, with great fanfare and little palpable results.
Finally, CFO Chialin stated HTC is currently fixing its portfolio in the mid- and low-end, segments he says HTC neglected in the past.
The invitation says the probably Galaxy S5 launch event will take place in Barcelona at 8 p.m. local time, which translates to 2 p.m. ET and 11 a.m. PT. Like all other Samsung Unpacked events, this one will be streamed on Samsung’s YouTube channel so those of us who can’t make the trip out to MWC can watch the announcement as it happens.
There’s no real teaser image for the next Samsung flagship in the invitation, but there are a couple conspicuous “5”s in the invite. If that’s not a hint at the coming of the Galaxy S5, we don’t know what is. The S5 is the next major device we’re expecting from Samsung, so it only makes sense that it would launch at the company’s next big event. And the timing is just about a year after the launch of the Galaxy S4.
Recent rumors for the Galaxy S5 say the phone will come in two models, one with a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 and 2GB of RAM, and one with an eight-core Samsung Exynos 5430 and 3GB of RAM. The phone is expected to have a 5.2-inch WQHD (2560 x 1440 pixels) display, a 2MP front-facing camera, and a 16MP rear-facing camera. There’s also a strong possibility that Samsung will include a fingerprint scanner to better compete with Apple’s iPhone 5s.
What we don’t know is how the Galaxy S5 will play into Samsung’s recent agreement with Google to scale back its Android customizations. Several screenshots have leaked of the new UI that will replace TouchWiz, but they came before the agreement. Samsung may change the UI from those images to look more like stock Android, which many Android fans would no doubt like.
Samsung is reportedly developing smart eyewear, with a target launch at the IFA Berlin show in September.
According to an unnamed company official cited by the Korea Times, Samsung hopes to benefit from an early mover advantage in the budding wearable devices industry and is currently developing a Google Glass-type device. The smart eyewear is tentatively dubbed Galaxy Glass, the official said, and Samsung is aiming for a release at IFA 2014 at the earliest.
Samsung realizes that wearable devices will require long term investment, according to the Korea Times’ source, but the company is betting on the category as the next big thing:
The new smart glass to be introduced by Samsung is a new concept of wearable device that can lead to an exciting culture of communication. The smart glass will present our aim to lead the new market with proven capability. Wearable devices can’t generate profits immediately. Steady releases of devices are showing our firm commitment as a leader in new markets.
Back in October, the Wall Street Journal uncovered a patent application showing Samsung’s take on a smart sports glasses device (pictured below). Presumably similar in functionality with Google’s Glass, the device would connect to the user’s smartphone and display information for things like incoming phone calls, location, or fitness tracking.
Samsung has been rumored to work on smart glasses since May 2013, just months after Google released Glass to developers. The two companies announced yesterday a sweeping deal to cross-license their existing patents, as well as new patents for the next ten years. At least in theory, that means Samsung should be safe from IP attacks from Google related to upcoming Glass-like devices.
Besides Google and Samsung, a host of smaller players are developing smart glasses, including Epson and Vuzix, which we recently got to see at CES 2014. The wearable market as a whole is exploding, though until now most companies have focused on smart watches, rather than other types of wearables,
Three years after HP pulled the plug on its WebOS-powered smartphone line, the PC giant is back in the game with two new devices launching today in India.
While no press release has come our way yet, HP has talked to Re/code about its smartphone comeback and explained why it chose India for the launch.
At 6-inch and 7-inch respectively, the Slate 6 and Slate 7 VoiceTab are straddling the thin line that separates phones from tablets. HP is hoping to capture the attention of customers looking for all-in-one devices, a category that’s growing steadily in emerging markets like India. In fact, the Slate 7 VoiceTab appears to be a cell-enabled version of the Slate 7, a cheap tablet that HP announced at MWC 2013 and shipped last summer.
On the specs front, the Slate 6 features an IPS LCD display of 1,280 x 720 resolution, while the Slate 7 VoiceTab features a 1,280 x 800 display. Besides this difference, the specs seem largely similar: a quad-core processor of an unspecified brand, 16GB of internal storage with an expansion slot, front-facing stereo speakers, five megapixels cameras on the rear, and two megapixels on the front. The devices will be running Android 4.2 with some modifications from HP.
HP has not revealed the price of the new Slate 6 and Slate 7 VoiceTab, but judging from the spec sheets and the target customers, they should be quite accessible. The devices will become available from February in India, but HP has refused to provide more details on their eventual international availability.
“I won’t say where or when, but you can expect us to do more in the coming months,” an HP rep told Re/code. “We’ll be talking about this in a more expansive way. But right now we’re focused on a successful launch in India.” The PC making giant has presented the devices to retailers last week at CES, and has supposedly received a “very positive response”, which seems to suggest that an entry in the North American market is just a question of time.
We’ll update this post with more details once HP makes the Slate 6 and Slate 7 VoiceTab official.