Google’s self-driving cars have already racked up more than a million miles, however all of them have taken place in the US. What about other parts of the world, such as those where people drive on the left? According to Sky News, some London officials have been trying to persuade the company to test in Britain for precisely these purposes. The last meeting took place “a few weeks ago,” according to Isabel Dedring, London’s deputy mayor for transport, following “at least half a dozen” talks over the last three years. Clearly, they haven’t been able to work something out.
“It’s still very early days but we would be keen for trials to happen in London whenever Google are ready to move them into other countries.”
The UK government is desperate for Britain to be a research haven for autonomous transportation. In Decemeber 2014, it part-funded a small number of research projects that included electric shuttle buses and two-person pods, virtual simulators and LIDAR-equipped jeeps. Soon, these will be joined by eight new programmes that are designed to test, among others, the public’s reaction to self-driving vehicles and a 41-mile “connected corridor.” While useful, none of these have quite the same panache as Google’s project. It does, therefore, make sense for politicians to try to court the company, as this would expose and legitimise its other efforts, while attracting new companies to bring their R&D to the UK.
Source: Sky News
There were hints that Google was interested in making virtual reality hardware, and now some of the first details of that gear seem to be trickling out. Financial Times sources claim that Google’s first true VR headset is effectively a more open rival to Samsung’s Gear VR — you slot in a phone from your brand of choice into a plastic housing that has its own movement sensors. It’s miles above Cardboard, according to the tip. If the leak is accurate, you’d see it arrive sometime this year… alongside software that could be just as (if not more) important to the experience.
The same insiders claim that Google is baking VR into Android itself, rather than relying on third-party apps like Cardboard does today. This wouldn’t just make support easier, but would fight common VR problems like lag — the smaller the delay, the less likely you are to be nauseous after a prolonged session. Google hasn’t confirmed either the Android VR support or the hardware, but it wouldn’t be shocking to get at least a sneak peek at this technology at Google I/O in May.
Source: Financial Times
Hello Android fans, this week we finally had confirmation that the Galaxy S7 and the LG G5 are both launching on February 21 in Barcelona; we’ve heard about Google’s plans to take more control over the Nexus program; the first credible image of the HTC M10 leaked out; Google became the most valuable company in the world; Microsoft bought SwiftKey for a rumored $500 million; and Marshmallow graced several flagship phones and one device that was launched in 2011!
Inside AA HQ
Our smartphones are hardly phones anymore, with their large screens made for browsing the web and specs that rival laptops. It would probably be more accurate to call them “smartcameras.” Millions of users use their devices primarily to take pics and share them on their social network of choice. Thing is, despite the amazing advancements of mobile cameras, the average shot is still pretty… average. If you’re looking for ways to up your mobile photography game, don’t miss Edgar’s excellent piece with tips and tricks for getting better pics out of your phone right away. And stay tuned for more in-depth posts on mobile photography in the future.
Both Samsung and LG have confirmed that their respective flagships will be unveiled in Barcelona in exactly two weeks. Exciting times, as LG vies to turnaround its top phone series and Samsung is in the tricky position of having to top the superb Galaxy S6. And that’s just the cherry on the cake: MWC is shaping up to be more interesting than ever, and Android Authority will be there to cover it all. Flights are booked, accommodation has been arranged, now it’s time to wait. In the meantime, look out for our MWC preview, coming soon.
Back to the popular Nexus 6P for our popular Sunday Giveaway. Try your luck here!
The stuff you shouldn’t miss
- Review: Krystal reviews the incredibly affordable honor 5X
- How-to: You always wondered, admit it – how can I take better pics with my phone. Wonder no more
- Tech talk: iOS has long held the lead in audio latency, but Marshmallow is narrowing the gap.
- Tech talk: Which fast charging standard is the best?
- For developers: Here’s what you need to know to start building apps with Android IDE
- Best apps: So you’re finally done with the Facebook app. Here are some alternatives
- Explainer: Fingerprint scanners are everywhere: here’s how they work
- Versus: Sibling rivalry: Mate 8 vs Nexus 6P
- Feature: 2016 is do or die for Sony Mobile – here’s why
News of the week
Google Nexus changes
Galaxy S7 release date
- Latest Galaxy S7 renders allegedly show off back of device
- It’s official: Galaxy S7 is launching on February 21
LG G5 teasing is on
- Google releases February security update factory images for Nexus devices
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow rolling out to the LG G4 in Canada
- BlackBerry Priv February security patch is now rolling out
- Marshmallow now rolling out to the original NVIDIA Shield Tablet (Update: OTA halted)
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow rolling out to the LG G4 in Canada
- Select AT&T Galaxy Note 5 users are receiving Marshmallow beta on their devices
Google’s raking in money
- Google posts Q4 and full year 2015 earnings – $74.5 billion in revenue for the year
- Alphabet is now the world’s most valuable company, toppling Apple
Microsoft now owns Swiftkey
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Volkswagen is still reeling from the Dieselgate emissions scandal, but it’s trying to turn over a new leaf. So far the automaker has announced plans to launch 20 electric vehicles by the year 2020, and this week we learned that the BUDD-e electric microbus will be one of them. In other transportation news, a team of MIT students took top place in Elon Musk’s Hyperloop design contest with plans for a streamlined pod that uses maglev technology. Uganda launched its first solar bus, and Google wants to bring 5G internet to off-grid areas with fleets of sun-powered drones.
The Wendelstein 7-X stellarator has been hyped as the holy grail of cheap, clean energy. This week it passed a critical hurdle in the quest for nuclear fusion. Meanwhile, Morocco flipped the switch on phase one of the world’s largest solar farm, and China unveiled plans to build the largest waste-to-energy plant on the planet. Tesla’s first Powerwall sold out in a flash, but if you missed out on the first run, you’ll be happy to hear that the company is planning to launch a new version of its home battery this July. And ThermalTech just launched a line of solar jackets that soak up sunlight to keep you toasty in freezing conditions.
Vertical farms are taking off, Japan is pushing the envelope with plans for the world’s first farm run by robots. The facility is expected to produce 11 million heads of lettuce every year while cutting energy demand by 30 percent. In other tech and design news, a new robotic exoskeleton called the Phoenix launched this week and it can restore mobility to the paralyzed for $40,000. An architecture firm unveiled plans for a futuristic “Next Tokyo” eco city with a Hyperloop and a mile-high skyscraper. And Super Bowl fans will be excited to know that this year’s game is net zero thanks to Levi’s LEED Gold stadium.
Another great deal from gearbest.com brings you an ultra powerful device for just $199.99. Elephone has been on a roll with devices that defy the laws of pricing and smartphones. The Elephone Vowney is an Android device that comes with a super powerful processor with a 4k display for less than $350. $270 gets you Android 6.0 in the Elephone P9000 with ultra powerful specs as well.
The lines between flagship, budget and mid-range have definitely been blurred.
The Elephone M3 is up for pre-order on gearbest.com with no sales tax, free shipping and a full 45-day satisfaction guarantee for just $199.99. Don’t like it then ship it back. Unlocked phones like these are designed to work on GSM networks globally and are compatible with the AT&T and T-Mobile networks.
Elephone M3 5.5 inch 4G Phablet Android 5.1 MTK6755 Octa Core 2.0GHz Fingerprint Sensor 3GB RAM 32GB ROM 8.0MP + 21.0MP Cameras 1080P 2.5D Screen OTG Type-C
Display: 5.5 inch 1920 x 1080 1080p 2.5D screen
CPU: MTK6755 ( Helio P10 ) Octa Core 2.0GHz
System: Android 5.1 ( Will be upgraged to Android 6.0 soon )
RAM + ROM: 3GB RAM + 32GB ROM
Camera: Front camera 8.0MP OV8858 with 84 degree wide angle + Rear camera Sony IMX230 21.0MP with auto focus and double color temperature flashes
Touch ID: By pushing fingerprint sensor area, you can unlock your phone and enter into your app, safe and considerate design to protect your privacy and account security
GPS: GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
Sensor: G-sensor, P-sensor, Light-sensor, Accelerometer, Hall sensor, E-compass
Features: Quick charge, Type-C interface
SIM Card: Dual SIM dual standby, dual micro SIM cards
WiFi: 802.11 a/b/g/n, 2.4G/5G WiFi
2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
3G: WCDMA 850/900/1900/2100MHz
4G: FDD-LTE 800/1800/2100/2600MHz
The post The Elephone M3 is a whole lot of phone for just $200 appeared first on AndroidGuys.
I am not a huge fan of using cases for my smartphones because they add too much bulk. There is definitely a purpose to them if you’re the type who is rough on your smartphone. But if you are gentle on your devices you should strongly consider getting a skin. I have a really unique skin made by Toast on my Nexus 6P and it is pretty freaking amazing.
Toast is a relatively new company getting its start in 2012 by a man named Matias Brecher which I had the pleasure of meeting him in person at CES 2016. My first impression was a good one. Similar to other people I know who own their own businesses, I could tell he took great pride and passion in his work. He was standing at the CES booth and actually applying real wood Toast skins to people’s personal phones.
In the 15 minutes I was at the booth, I did get a chance to speak with Matias and even though he was tired from being on the CES floor for three days straight, he took the time to tell me about his company. He even told me he was the one who designed and cut my custom AG skin.
Toast got its name by the process in which the designers engrave and cut with a laser that burns in a very precise manner. So Matias named his company after toast which also burns.
Toast is a true U.S. based company which does all of its business in Portland, OR. In just three quick years, they have already grown to a company of 10 where they handle every step of the skin creation process. They are very good people. Toast takes part in the 1% for the Planet program in which a minimum of 1% of Toast’s net proceeds are donated to help save the earth. It’s a rarity for such a new company to have a social conscience, but it does and I am happy to support a company like Toast.
“We are a small company dedicated to quality products and quality of life: for you, for us, and for our planet.”
Real wood skin made in the U.S.A.
Toast makes a wide variety of skins – mobile devices, tablets, gaming consoles and even custom skins out of real genuine wood. I happen to have the grey Nexus 6P which has an all metal body. And if you’ve owned an all metal device before you understand that metal can be easy to scratch. If you’re like me and are tired of having the same old look in a smartphone with most of them being black, white or gold, skins can offer a superior level of customization without adding bulk.
I have been a fan of the “wood” look but only a few devices employed the look. Leave it to Toast to fill that gap with real wood skins that can be applied to almost any smartphone. My Nexus 6P skin is made from Walnut with an Ebony inlay for the camera and custom laser etched AG in the center of the skin. I also have the optional Walnut front cover which rounds out skin.
Every single detail is covered when it comes to the Toast skin. The cutouts are perfect for the buttons, cameras, and sensors. The wood itself is about a millimeter thick which a sticky backing which means it is very delicate until it is actually applied to the phone. Since it does add thickness, the SIM slot, power and volume buttons are slightly recessed when the main skin is applied. But Toast provides perfectly cut out wood inserts for that too.
Every detail is well thought out and Toast even provides an alcohol swab to clean your device to make sure the skin gets proper adhesion.
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I am not a huge fan of applying skins because they can sometimes be painful, but not the Toast skin. The laser that does the cutting is perfect and I say that without exaggeration. Once you line up the rear microphone hole, found below the Nexus 6P camera, and align the buttons all you have to do is push down and it fits perfectly.
Once the main section is in place, I dropped in the Ebony AG insert as well as the camera insert. It was as simple as removing the protective covering over the glue and fitting it into the skin like a jigsaw puzzle. Following those, I then put the inserts in for the SIM card, power button and volume rocker. I was a little skeptical of the tight fit and was worried they would get stuck, but was pleasantly surprised when my buttons worked without issue. And then all I had to do was apply the front Walnut screen cover and I was done. The whole process took less than five minutes.
The skin fit perfect. It gives my 6P a unique look that I have not seen before on another phone. It definitely adds grip to what otherwise is a slippery Nexus 6P, and it is 100% made in the U.S.A. and supports charity at the same time. It even smells a little like burned wood. Rather than talk up the results I am just going to provide some sweet pictures. Words can’t do it justice.
Of all of the skins I have tried, the Toast all wood skin is by far my favorite. It was super easy to apply, has a unique look and is made by a company with values that I adore. The skins start at just $34 and can work their way up to $50+ if you want custom designs and graphics. I highly recommend checking out Toast skins if you’re up for a new look. You will not be disappointed.
Learn more at Toastmade.com
If you don’t think Hangouts calls on your phone are passing muster, don’t worry — relief might be in sight. The latest version of Hangouts for Android is telling users that it’ll boost audio and video quality on future calls by making peer-to-peer connections “when possible.” In other words, it’ll bypass Google’s servers if both ends of the conversation can establish a direct link. The exact criteria for this isn’t listed, but it’s safe to say that this will at least work between two people using the latest Android software. You likely won’t notice much of a difference unless many of your friends upgrade, but don’t be surprised if your face-to-face and VoIP chats get that much clearer.
Hangouts has been at the top of Google’s priorities lately. The recently pushed 7.0 update brought some nice new features and a ton of small fixes. Google is looking to take things to the next stage now by significantly improving audio and video quality.
Google wants users to be able to share great experiences over Hangouts, and where better to start than call quality. Considering that Google can’t change the quality of everyone’s camera and microphone they use for Hangouts, Google pans to create a direct peer-to-peer connection, which could potentially help improve voice/video quality drastically.
Google is always looking to better people’s experiences through the use of their services while keeping it safe at the same time. Unfortunately, with the direct peer-to-peer connection, security and privacy are a major concern. This is because each member’s IP address is up for show during the call. Google knows that one’s IP address needs to remain confidential because of the dangers that can take place if one gets possession of another’s. Let’s hope Google can come up with a solution.
The additions are making way to the Android version of Hangouts already. Those on iOS haven’t gotten the capability just yet. For now, it might be a good idea to only chat with people you know would cause no harm. We’ll keep you posted if we hear more.
Come comment on this article: Better call quality is coming to Hangouts
Today on In Case You Missed It: UC Berkeley is using VR, motion capture and spatial mapping to put a human ‘into’ the body of a robot with a technique called robotic teleoperation. The video looks like a complicated form of the claw game, but also gives a really interesting perspective.
Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics is running, finally, after nearly 20 years of design and construction. The hope is that its design will lead to a safer alternative to nuclear power.
And a Kickstarter project is asking for money for a cable that backs up your data while charging your phone. It costs about $60 for either an iOS or Android charger; snap it up if you’re into redundancy or don’t trust cloud storage.
It was really a week for car news. We recommend reading editor Roberto Baldwin’s reporting on the Uber protests in San Francisco. As always, please share any interesting science or tech videos, anytime! Just tweet us with the #ICYMI hashtag to @mskerryd.
Intel might be on the verge of losing one of its biggest customers. Word on the street is that Google is looking to tap Qualcomm to produce its server chips going forward, according to Bloomberg. Although this wouldn’t ruin Intel, it would certainly be a serious hit to the company’s bottom line.
If these rumors are true, Google will announce next week that they’ve decided to endorse Qualcomm’s chips over their long-time supplier Intel. Although Intel still supplies practically all of the chips on the server market, this is a slackening trade. As it stands, Google currently purchases nearly a third of a million computer chips every quarter from Intel, landing the search giant as Intel’s third largest customer behind HP and Dell.
Mobile tech is on the rise, and Qualcomm has made a name for themselves in this niche, producing the majority of chips for all non-Apple smartphones currently on the market. Intel has historically leaned on PC tech, which is in decline compared to mobile devices. It seems like Google has seen the value that Qualcomm has been bringing to the table on Android devices, and they may be looking to make the chipmaker their go-to resource for server chips as well. If they decide to go through with this, it will be a serious blow to Intel since the company currently tracks full half of its income from server-based sales.
What are your thoughts regarding this business maneuver? Would Google be making the right move switching to Qualcomm, or should they remain loyal to their long-time provider? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!