Project Loon’s balloons could not be more different than your typical party variety — it’s loaded with research equipment and LTE capability, providing high-speed internet connection wherever they go. Obviously, Google’s X Lab researchers (the ones behind this crazy balloons-as-hotspot project) will want their data and expensive equipment back. So, they equipped their balloons with GPS and formed a special team to retrieve the floating hotspots when they land. Apparently, the researchers plan out when and where to land balloons for whatever reason (they mostly choose flat areas that are uninhabited but have decent road access), which the field personnel then seek out through their coordinates.
Since this process allows the Project Loon folks to clean up after themselves and reuse old equipment to save money, they take retrieval seriously. Once, team member Nick Kohli even traversed New Zealand’s waters in a small fishing vessel for two days, in order to collect balloons that landed in the area. Since he’s most qualified to talk about how retrieval operations work, you can listen to him explain it in detail and watch how it all goes down in the video below.
Source: Project Loon (Google+)
Today, we take a look at Google’s “Project Wing” delivery drone, go crazy with emoticons, learn about Nintendo’s new 3DS and 3DS XL handhelds and more. Read on for Engadget’s news highlights from the last 24 hours.
Filed under: Misc
Chromecast and YouTube are like a match made in heaven. And, since they’re both part of Google’s big picture strategy, it makes sense for both things to be as friendly as possible with each other. To that end, YouTube’s taken to to Google+ (how meta, eh?) to reveal that Chromecast owners can now use its site to queue videos — essentially, this is meant to simplify the process, since it lets you arrange what to play next from a single tab on your browser. Just as well, there are more changes coming to the YouTube watch page on the web (pictured below), including an easier way to create playlists and share videos across social networks, plus a new description box. The Chromecast feature is available now, while the other tweaks to YouTube.com are expected to rollout over the next few days.
Source: YouTube (Google+)
The United States found itself without a Chief Technology Officer yesterday when Todd Park relinquished his post to go trawl Silicon Valley for IT types, but that spot may not stay open for long. Bloomberg claims that there’s already a frontrunner for the job: Megan Smith, the 49 year old vice president of Google’s moonshot-loving X division. If the rumors hold true, Smith would become the country’s third CTO (succeeding Park and his predecessor Aneesh Chopra), and the first not to trade one government job for another.
But here’s a question to ponder: what exactly does the United States’ CTO do? The office’s stated goal is to “promote technological innovation to help achieve our most urgent priorities — from creating jobs and reducing health care costs to keeping our nation secure”, but it can be a little tough to outline exactly what the men in the CTO seat have actually accomplished. Chopra’s tenure for instance saw the development of a nationwide public safety broadband network, while Park’s stint is probably best known for the tricky rollout of Healthcare.gov, a process that was… fraught with headaches, to say the least. Smith’s lack of governmental experience could help or hurt here — she’s no stranger to wrangling resources and getting stuff done, but the amount of bureaucratic red tape that comes with a high-ranking spot like this would be nothing to sneeze at.
Relations between Google and Samsung are already a little tense, but the Korean smartphone maker may just have elevated those frustrations a little further. Extending its existing deal to provide mapping data on Samsung’s Tizen wearables, Nokia (the part that wasn’t sold to Microsoft) today confirmed that it will bring HERE Maps to Android for the first time, giving Samsung Galaxy smartphone owners advanced access to its own Google Maps alternative.
After Nokia jettisoned its smartphone division, the company doubled-down on HERE, striking deals with a few of its former rivals, including Amazon, Jolla and, of course, Samsung. The app itself comes with many of the features you’d find in Google Maps, but also excels in some areas where Google doesn’t. A couple of examples include true offline maps, which are currently supported in 95 countries, and LiveSight, which lets users navigate to landmarks by following virtual signs on their screen. If you don’t own a Samsung smartphone, don’t fret, Nokia says that HERE Maps will come to other Android devices by the end of the year (note: you can still use Google Maps, even on a Samsung handset). The HERE Maps beta will make its way to Galaxy phones when the 3G-enabled Gear S smartwatch goes on sale, which is expected sometime in October.
Google and Samsung have the weirdest relationship. The on-again, off-again nature of their partnership seems perilous at the best of times and this latest move from Samsung probably doesn’t bode well. Samsung has announced that Nokia‘s HERE Maps, previously announced to be available on Samsung’s Gear wearables, will also become available exclusively to Samsung Galaxy smartphones in the form of HERE Maps for Android for free. This is at direct odds with what Google wants, who have previously told Samsung to back off with proprietary apps which try to emulate the function of Google’s own apps. And adding an app from Android’s competitor, Windows Phone poster-child Nokia, which obviously competes with Google Maps, is surely Samsung just asking for trouble.
Regardless of what happens between the tech giants, HERE Maps for Android is definitely being released, and its timed release is scheduled for when the Samsung Gear S is released in October. HERE Maps features some pretty nifty features including offline navigation and Nokia say all of HERE’s features can be utilized without an Internet connection. This is thanks to the downloading of maps onto your phone, of which there are currently more than 200 to choose from.
What do you think about Samsung’s decision to make a Nokia product exclusive for Samsung Galaxy smartphones? Let us know your thoughts.
The post HERE Maps for Android will be exclusively available to Samsung Galaxy smartphones for free appeared first on AndroidSPIN.
If you typically share your computer and your browser with a sibling, a roomie or a friend who has no respect for your privacy, this latest Google Chrome beta update might make things easier for you. It comes with a pull-down menu that lets you easily switch users, put the browser to guest mode or launch an incognito tab on Windows, Mac or Linux. According to some comments in the update’s Google+ announcement, though, you still have to log off from your accounts to be sure your activities remain for your eyes only, just in case someone decides to peek. The guest mode automatically deletes the other user’s browsing information, on the other hand, so they won’t have to worry about you seeing their secrets.
Aside from this update, Google has also unleashed a 64-bit Chrome beta for Mac, a few days after the company released a 64-bit stable version for Windows computers. This will make the browser launch more quickly and will generally make it faster than its predecessor. Finally, the new beta update also comes with a bunch of APIs for web app devs to play with. You can get Google Chrome beta (or any other channel you want, whether stable, Canary or Dev) through The Chromium Projects website.
Google Authorship is no more. It has lived for only three short years, from the time Mountain View launched it in 2011, displaying people’s faces alongside anything they’ve written on a website tied to their Google+ accounts. Yes, it stopped showing author’s profile pics back in June, because the company wanted to unify mobile and desktop experiences, and Authorship snippets take too much space on a phone’s screen. But now it’s officially dead, dead, dead, with Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller issuing its death certificate. See, people haven’t been using it enough, and when they do, they almost always miss a step in the set-up process, like forgetting to link back to the publishing site on their Google+ profiles.
According to Search Engine Land, in a sample group of 500 authors across 150 major media websites, only 151 had set up their Authorship permissions correctly. And it’s not like they lost out by not fixing it — the tech giant didn’t even see any significant difference in click-throughs whether a search result comes with Authorship snippets or not. The feature just didn’t take off enough to meet Google’s expectations, so it was sent to the chopping block, just like Reader. Note that you might still come across some Authorship-like bits in your search results, though. Google still shows authors’ profile pics beside their G+ posts, so long as they’re in your circles, and you’re signed into your account.
As a Google products user we often see various projects and changes start as an idea, mature to implementation, scramble to use it and then watch it die. Over the years there have been a few that we have seen, like Google Currents, now another project is falling by the way side, Google Authorship. It is one that you may have loved and seen often in search returns. It was the little addition to an article or post that linked across to the author and their G+ account. I personally liked having it. But alas, things change.
The head shot aspect of the Google Authorship has been gone for a while and the only remaining aspect was a small tag for the author. As of today, that is no longer listed either. The announcement was made on G+ earlier today by John Muller from the Webmaster Tools team. Apparently it didn’t have a big of an impact as they thought it would. As Muller states, ” in our tests, removing authorship generally does not seem to reduce traffic to sites. Nor does it increase clicks on ads. We make these kinds of changes to improve our users’ experience.”
While Google Authorship is dead, Search will still poll G+ and return results from friends and pages that relevant to the query. So for all you blog owners out there, I suppose you can disable any Authorship plug-ins and modifications you have made to comply and participate in the Google Authorship program.
Amazon is selling a phone and reportedly even getting into the online ad business, so of course Google is ready to compete with its still-in-testing Prime Air drone delivery service. The Atlantic has a report on what is being called “Project Wing,” a part of the Google X labs that have worked on Project Loon, Glass, driverless cars and so much more. As shown above, the idea is for a tail sitter unmanned aircraft (shown above, described as a hybrid between a plane and a helicopter that takes off and lands vertically), where the drone flies in like a plane, then hovers and lowers a package to the ground by wire before releasing it. The “egg” at the end of the wire hits the ground and drops the package before being pulled back up into the drone. So can you expect to receive a Google Shopping Express order this way anytime soon? Probably not right away, as the test shown took place in Australia, and there’s plenty of testing and regulatory hurdles to get over before anyone is dropping off packages this way. If you’re an interested partner (hey Netflix, maybe drones aren’t a joke?) there’s a sign-up sheet available.
Update: Check after the break for a video of the project.