Google’s adding another member to its household family that includes Nest and Dropcam, and this time its home automation outfit Revolv. The firm’s website lists it as “a Nest company” now, and goes on to to assure existing customers that they’re still taken care of and that their year-long warranties will be honored. The thing is, it isn’t accepting any new users for its services that tie everything from Sonos wireless speakers, WeMo light switches and Hue lightbulbs from Philips together, as VentureBeat points out. For the privacy minded, Revolv is keen to note that its user data will stay separate from that of Nest’s thermostats and smoke detectors, and Google as a whole. What’s it all mean? That Mountain View has a new toy in an old box that its hoping will compete with challengers like Apple’s HomeKit and Samsung + SmartThings. Whenever those fully launch, of course.
It’s Friday, ya’ll. But before you checkout for the weekend, check out all our news highlights from the last 24 hours, including our hands-on with the Nexus 9, a new high-altitude jump record, the best gaming mice you can buy right now, and more.
Well, we guess congratulations are in order. According to Re/code, Sundar Pichai, the senior vice president at Google who used to just be in charge of the Chrome, Android, and web apps teams now basically has control of almost every other Google product division of note. Search? Google+? Ads? Even the company’s infrastructure? All of that has been apparently moved off of CEO Larry Page’s plate and onto Pichai’s — not a huge surprise considering his heightened prominence within Mountain View over the past months. Pichai, a nine year Google veteran, was even rumored to be one of the leading choices for Microsoft’s new CEO, though the role eventually went to longtime company insider Satya Nadella.
Anyway, that’s a lot of power in one man’s hands, especially considering that the advertising division Pichai inherited basically pays for all the other weird, amazing things Google gets to do. It’s worth noting that not every Google product falls under Pichai’s newly opened umbrella, though. There’s YouTube, for one; that still remains under Susan Wojcicki’s control, which she took over earlier this year. Oh, and all the really neat stuff — Nest’s growing internet-of-things team, the biotech innovations in the works at Calico, the moonshots under construction at Google X — are all still firmly in Page’s pocket. In fact, his love for the latter may be what caused this seismic leadership shift in the first place. Re/code notes that Page has expressed an interest in focusing on the “bigger picture” stuff that’ll define what the Google of tomorrow will look like, lining up with earlier reports that he’s been tapping internal talent to figure out what big, world-changing problems Google should really be trying to fix.
It was only a matter of time before the now Google-owned Nest Learning Thermostat (and smoke detector) became even more integrated in the “Internet of things.”
Now, the device can be paired and controlled with other home automation products, including Pebble smartwatches (to check and control the temperature in your home), ivee (voice-controlled home manager) and Life360 (an app used to check the location of family and friends and can adjust the temperature when people enter and leave your home).
WallyHome, a device that checks for water leaks, is also on the list of compatible products, as is Rachio, which controls sprinklers in the house for fires. Expect more and more products to become compatible with Nest, as Google is looking for more partners to expand the capabilities of its device.
Come comment on this article: Nest thermostats add compatability with third-party home automation products
If you’re lucky enough to be one of the very few using Google’s new Inbox application, you’ll be glad to hear that you now have the facility to invite three of your friends/family to join you in the beta testing action.
Using the newly-implemented invite system is extremely simple. All you have to do is navigate to the Inbox mobile or web app, hit the compose button and locate the ‘golden ticket’ icon. Tap it, and an ‘Invite to Inbox’ email will be created. All that’s left to do then is choose a recipient, and you’re good to go.
If you’ve received an invite to the service, we’d love to know your thoughts — so be sure to drop us a comment in the section below.
Come comment on this article: Google Inbox users can now invite three friends to use the service
Inbox by Gmail has gathered a lot of attention, and for good reason. I am a lucky person to have it, and it is a great tool, clearing my inbox within minutes, along with adding all sorts of new functions. Well Google is not being shy about adding people, as now anyone with Inbox can invite up to 3 people!
How to invite friends to Inbox
Inbox announced on Friday on Twitter that those with Inbox can invite friends. In order to do this, open your Inbox app, tap Speed Dial (the red “+” in the bottom right corner) and you should see a golden ticket. Next, shout “I’ve got a golden ticket!” and dance like a oompa loompa. Oh, wait, that won’t help. Just tap the golden ticket, and then type whoever you want to invite in the text box at the top, and then tap “Invite”! Then, enjoy the glory as your friends shout your name in praise.
Google has a lot going for it this month, between the announcement of Lollipop last week (has it only been a week?), the newest set of Nexus devices, and now a game changer from the service that changed email 10 years ago. What else could Google have in store?
Have you been enjoying this newest venture from Gmail?
The jury’s still out on Google’s new mobile approach to email, but that hasn’t stopped people from going a little batty over getting invited to use it (see also: Gmail, Google Wave). In case you were feeling a little weird about begging Google for an Inbox invite, though, you can now just beg your Inbox-using friends for one. Google has just started gracing users with three invites to spread among their needy peers — if they happen to see a golden ticket (we really need a new visual metaphor to that effect) in their Speed Dial menu, they can start spreading the love. Alas, Google isn’t letting the floodgates fully open just yet: if you got your invite from someone who didn’t get theirs straight from Mountain View, chances are you don’t have any invites of your own to share. Now we’re just waiting to see if a secondary market of Inbox invites springs up — what’s the Bitcoin-to-Inbox invite ratio these days?
Move over Felix Baumgartner (pictured above) — just two years after the daredevil’s record setting 128,000 foot Red Bull Stratos space jump, Google VP Alan Eustace has topped it. The New York Times reports Eustace rode a balloon 135,908 feet above New Mexico and dove back to Earth, opting for just a specially designed spacesuit / life support system instead of Baumgartner’s capsule + suit combo. It took two hours for the ride up, and another 15 minutes for the trip down, which peaked at speeds of up to 800 mph before the parachute system kicked in, and he glided back down to a landing site 70 miles away from where he started. He’s apparently been working on the project since 2011, and declined assistance from Google to go it alone, working with Paragon Space Development Corporation on the project, dubbed “StratEx.” He recorded the whole thing on GoPro cameras (of course) and you can watch highlights from the feat embedded after the break.
[Image credit: AP Photo/Red Bull Stratos, Balazs Gardi]
Via: Larry Page (G+)
The Nexus 9 wasn’t designed to be an iPad killer; it was designed to inspire Google’s Android partners to create one instead. Though you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise: It was announced one day before the iPad Air 2 and mini 3, comes with a powerful 64-bit NVIDIA chip and will be competitively priced with Apple’s tablets. But Alberto Villarreal, head of the Nexus 9’s industrial design, insists that this wasn’t the purpose.
“We wanted to accelerate the premium market for Android tablets,” Villarreal said. “[The Nexus 9] has a lot of attributes and definitely will bring the quality for other companies to do better.”
The Nexus 9 had to be a shining example in much the same way that last year’s Nexus devices, the 5 and 7, showed manufacturers that it’s possible to create inexpensive phones and tablets that look good and perform well. The team needed a partner with experience in creating premium devices, so it turned to HTC.
The team needed a partner with experience in creating premium devices, so it turned to HTC.
“We saw the One and really liked how their designs were very simple, focused on usability and removed things that didn’t need to be there,” Villarreal said. “They have nice craft and precision details and materials.”
HTC handled the Nexus 9’s production and worked closely with Google on its design and materials, but it looks unlike anything the Taiwan-based manufacturer has made before. The well-hidden BoomSound stereo speakers on the front are distinctively HTC, but otherwise the tablet looks like a blown-up version of the Nexus 5: The straight sides, matte soft-grip (polycarbonate) back and even the camera placement offer a very striking resemblance. (Villarreal helped design the Nexus 5 as well.) But the 9 takes on more of a premium appearance than last year’s smartphone thanks to its use of aluminum.
If the design team entertained the idea of an all-metal device, the thought didn’t stick. It preferred a layered approach: The aluminum sides provide rigidity and protection, in addition to its premium appearance, while the polycarbonate is meant to offer a better grip and more color options. And while the Nexus 9’s three hues — black, white and sand — aren’t exactly vibrant or eye-catching, a lot more consideration went into selecting the right shades.
“We’re moving away from technology-driven black and silver, which is very common in the industry, and trying to bring more of a fashion look to the portfolio,” Villarreal said.
While the options don’t scream fashion, Villarreal explained that his team chose sand to be more expressive and make a statement. The black shade has a slight blue tint when viewed from certain angles, and the white option is actually closer to gray to combat dirt and grubby hands.
The size of the 9 places it firmly in the middle of the tablet spectrum, between larger tablets like the iPad Air and Nexus 10 and smaller ones like the iPad mini and Nexus 7. I much prefer the screen’s 4:3 aspect ratio over the 16:10 panel on the Nexus 7. It may not make a huge difference when watching movies in landscape mode, but it definitely will in portrait. A 9-inch screen using 16:10 would simply be too long for comfort.
The size of the 9 places it firmly in the middle of the tablet spectrum.
Early in the development process, Google experimented with a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Villarreal said the number of design prototypes was “countless.” It settled on this particular design because it’s still portable and light enough for travel, but large enough to use as a productivity tool and entertainment device.
Indeed, it’s smaller and lighter than the iPad Airs and feels more portable. It also rivals Apple’s tablet in performance — on paper, anyway. If Google wants to prove it can be a serious productivity tool, this is the company’s golden opportunity. The Nexus 9 is packing a dual-core 2.3GHz NVIDIA Tegra K1 chipset, but don’t let the number of cores fool you: We’ve already seen a glimpse of what the first-generation K1 can do, and it was a fantastic performer. The new Nexus comes with the next-gen Denver K1, which comes with 64-bit support and is supposed to be even more powerful.
[Image credit: Google]
Since it was built with productivity in mind, Google also constructed a mechanical keyboard that doubles as a protective cover. It’s 5mm thick, attaches to the Nexus magnetically, comes with NFC for easy pairing and is supposed to last several months on one charge. Since it’s not quite as spaced-out as desktop and laptop boards, it’ll still take some time to get used to, but the keys didn’t feel quite as cramped as I expected.
“We worked together with the software team from the onset — it was a super-close collaboration.”
One of Google’s primary advantages in building a Nexus tablet is its control of both the hardware and software. As a result, the Nexus 9 was designed with Android 5.0 Lollipop already in mind.
“We worked together with the software team from the onset — it was a super-close collaboration,” Villarreal said. The new version of Android feels incredibly fresh, primarily due to Material Design, which is cleaner, flatter and more intuitive.
At a baseline cost of $399, the Nexus 9 is priced competitively against Apple’s iPad mini 3 and older Air, and it has plenty of power behind it. It may seem odd that the $200 Nexus 7 is no longer available as a more affordable option, but this move falls right in line with Google’s new strategy: Create a premium benchmark for its partners to follow. Instead of going into battle alone, it’s recruiting an army.
Nest’s thermostat and smoke detector now works with more third-party home automation products, the first fruits of the developer program that the Google-owned company launched in June. First in the list is something you’re likely familiar with: Pebble smartwatches, which you can now use to control and check the temperature in your home. Next? A voice-controlled home manager called ivee, which lets you know when a peak energy event starts and ends, as well as lets you use spoken commands to adjust the temperature for you. Then there’s Life360, an app that monitors where family members or friends are on a map (with their consent), which automatically adjusts the temp when the last resident in the house leaves or when the first one comes home.
Nest can now also adjust temperature based on the sensor readings by WallyHome, a device that monitors water leaks. Finally, there’s smart sprinkler controller Rachio, which now switches on sprinklers around the house if Nest Protect’s alarm has been sounding off for quite some time. Other than these new additions, Google Ventures and Nest are also looking for up-and-coming products for its Works with Nest developer program, so this clearly won’t be the last batch of support updates. Execs will look at developers’ ideas on November 19th and will provide promising projects with funding and visibility to realize their goals. So if you think you have something brilliant for the connected home, check out the Thoughtful Things Fund for more info on how to join the event.