These vibrating shoes
guide your steps as
you play tourist
Imagine all of the things you might notice on your next weekend trip if you weren’t constantly staring at your phone to guide you. EasyJet’s Sneakairs vibrate to let you know when to turn or if you’ve arrived at your destination using Bluetooth and the Google Maps API. And yes, they were made by the UK budget airline, which makes the project even more interesting.
In good spirits: Hangar 1’s latest vodka Is 60 percent San Francisco fog
Wait, what? You read that correctly. Due to the drought in California, a distillery got creative when it came to making its vodka.
When will the internet be safe for women?
As the battle against online harassment continues, law enforcement has to adjust to remain effective in keeping women safe in real life.
Google I/O, the company’s massive annual developer event, has wrapped up for 2016. As usual, CEO Sundar Pichai and a host of the company’s executives gave the world a look at what it’s planning for the next year. Unfortunately, we’ll need to wait to see how everything works in the real world, as nearly everything Google announced won’t come to fruition for months. But that’s not meant to minimize what Google announced this week — indeed, many of the company’s biggest and most important products will look a lot different six months from now.
Easily the flashiest two announcements this week were Daydream and Google Home. The latter is Google’s first entry into a relatively new product category, but it’s powered by years of organizing knowledge across the internet as well as everything it learns about its users. That sounds creepier than it is in reality — if you’ve opted into products like Gmail, Calendar and Google Now, Google Home will use all the info you’ve stored there to make it a better product. As cool and surprisingly useful as Amazon Echo can be, it’s not hard to imagine that Google Home will trump it in a number of ways.
Daydream, meanwhile, is the company’s true VR ambitions revealed. Cardboard was how it got its feet wet; Daydream is how it’ll really make an impact. By leveraging the combined forces of Google’s hardware partners, the flexibility and power of Android and the company’s army of developers, Google could be looking to mimic the strategy that made Android so successful in the first place.
The news that Google is rethinking messaging apps yet again was met with less enthusiasm, but the most important part of the Allo isn’t smart replies — it’s the integration with the Google Assistant. That’s how Google is referring to the bot that lives inside the app, letting you ask questions with natural language. That same assistant is what’ll make Google Home work, and it’s highly likely we’ll be seeing the company refer to the Google Assistant much more as the year goes on.
Other announcements that were more subtle but no less important to Google’s overall strategy include Instant Apps and the plan to bring Android apps to Chrome OS. By the end of the year, Chrome OS’s perpetual app problem could be solved — and the platform has already been growing significantly without this huge new feature. And Instant Apps is a profound example of changing how we currently use smartphones. Not having to download and install apps you use infrequently could help keep our phones clutter-free.
Other Android news included a quite stable beta of Android N; in my limited testing it’s definitely worth checking out. Android Wear itself saw a more profound redesign. While I’m not sure that we need a keyboard on our smart watches, it’s good to see Google honing in on what users do most to make the experience better.
And, of course, Weird Google was on display, most notably in the ATAP presentation that saw the company announce a smart jean jacket designed with Levis for bikers, a smartwatch that you can control with radar-powered finger gestures, and a launch date for the long-awaited Project Ara modular smartphone.
Add it all up and this I/O felt like a fairly transformative show, even though there wasn’t a lot of stuff to could go try out immediately. I was hoping to get some time with Daydream or see how Allo or Google Home works, but we’ll have to wait on that for now. By the end of the year, though, the way Google and its users interact with each other will look a lot different.
Photography by Chris Velazco.
As far as video card upgrades go, there’s a lot to love with NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1080. We called it “the upgrade you’ve been waiting for” in our full review. The GTX 1080 blows away last year’s high-end cards, and even though it’s $599 ($699 for the Founders Edition we tested), it’s well worth the cost for serious gamers. In our video review above, check out some gameplay footage from the new Doom remake, as well as Quantum Break.
Apple CEO Tim Cook continued his week-long visit to India today by meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss manufacturing and retail opportunities, as well as launch a new state mobile app (via The Times of India).
During the meeting at the Prime Minister’s official residence, Modi explained his Digital India initiative and asked Apple to support its key objectives of e-education, health, and increasing farmer’s incomes. The PM also reportedly raised issues with Cook regarding cyber security and data encryption in India.
Apple CEO Tim Cook meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Image: PIB)
Cook took the opportunity to express his appreciation for the country’s skilled younger generation and emphasized Apple’s desire to tap into the talent of India’s youth. Cook also commented on the potential for app development that exists in the country and highlighted the importance of the Map Development Centre that Apple is setting up in Hyderabad.
In addition, Cook helped launch an updated version of the Prime Minister’s ‘Narendra Modi Mobile App’, which aims to offer a direct channel of communication with Indian citizens as part of a broader vision for participative governance.
The app contains a new feature called ‘My Network’, which is described as an online volunteering forum where app users can share views and ideas. Additionally, the app functions as a ministerial news service and logs the Prime Minister’s speeches, while users can also keep up with episodes of PM radio program ‘Mann Ki Baat’ and even write to the Prime Minister.
Modi took to Twitter to thank Cook for helping launch the updated app and urged followers on social media to get involved. Cook responded by thanking the PM and offered his best wishes for the app’s success.
Thank you @tim_cook! Friends, welcome & happy volunteering. Your views & efforts are always enriching. pic.twitter.com/aAu4isv6wM
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 21, 2016
Thanks PM @narendramodi for a great meeting. Already looking forward to next visit to India. Best wishes on the app! https://t.co/ctXiKoCiS0
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) May 21, 2016
As part of the day, Cook also met Sunil Mittal, chairman of Bharti Airtel, one of India’s leading telecommunication companies which was the first to launch 4G in India and is set to offer the service countrywide.
The PM meeting is being reported as a high point for Cook’s Indian visit and a strengthening of Apple’s relationship with the country. In an interview with an Indian TV channel on Friday, Cook asserted that he was looking at India holistically and Apple was “here for the next thousand years”.
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The new $250 Simplehuman Sensor Mirror Pro will work with Alexa, IFTTT, and Nest.
Simplehuman, a manufacturer of everyday household items ranging from a $26 paper towel holder to the $400 Wi-Fi Wide-View Sensor Mirror, just released a new product — the $250 Sensor Mirror Pro.
In other smart home news:
- This smart mirror helps you see yourself in a whole new light
- Shining a light on high-CRI LEDs
- Here are all of the new things you can do with your Nest
The Sensor Mirror Pro has a lot of the basic stuff you’d expect from a pricey vanity mirror. It comes with 5x and 10x magnification for applying things up close and personal — think liquid eyeliner, eyelash curling, foundation contouring — and any other makeup application or general personal grooming that would be easier in tight focus.
It also has a “tru-lux light system” with a color rendering index (CRI) of 90. Check out this overview of CRI scores for more details, but generally the closer the number is to 100, the better a light approximates natural light. Professional hair and makeup artist Cynthia Laws told me that daylight is the best case scenario for applying makeup, so a CRI score of 90 seems like a very good sign for this mirror.
In addition, the mirror’s built-in LEDs are designed to light up automatically when it detects your presence. This feature is also available with the Wide-View Sensor Mirror, but it didn’t always work. The lights would shut off unexpectedly when I was applying makeup on occasion (see the video review below). Hopefully Simplehuman made some improvements with this latest iteration.
This new mirror also does some things you wouldn’t expect. It has an app and an IFTTT channel so you can create custom rules like, “If it’s overcast out, then set the Simplehuman Sensor Mirror Pro to overcast preset.” Nest also added Simplehuman to its Works with Nest smart-home integrations platform on May 17. With this partnership, you’re supposed to be able to sync the light settings from your Nest Cam to the LEDs in your Sensor Mirror Pro.
Simplehuman also has plans to add Amazon Alexa integration into the mix in early June. While this isn’t available just yet, you should be able to say things like, “Alexa, ask the mirror to set brightness to 50 percent” and “Alexa, ask the mirror to use the office setting.” I’m not convinced that these smart features add much value, but it will be fun to test them out all the same. Stay tuned.
Today on In Case You Missed It: Startup Star-ALE wants to create man-made meteor shower tech in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. The Prophix is a video toothbrush tool that can live stream your choppers and save pictures of them to an app in case you’re obsessed with the way your teeth look.
We round up the week’s news in TL;DR but brunch time conversations could hit on the Australian VR experience for eBay and of course, the latest in the mess that is Theranos. If you’re into drone delivery, you should also know about the tests DHL is doing with AI delivery in less-populated areas around the world. They say they’re ready for city testing so let’s get on that, already! As always, please share any great tech or science videos you find by using the #ICYMI hashtag on Twitter for @mskerryd.
Lawyers from Paramount/CBS have been pursuing the makers of a crowdfunded Star Trek fan film, Axanar, for months, but according to JJ Abrams, they’re finally going to back off. Abrams made the announcement at an event last night on the studio’s movie lot where the studio dedicated a street to the memory of Leonard Nimoy, premiered the second trailer(which you can watch below) for Star Trek: Beyond, showed about 15 minutes of footage from the movie, and announced plans to screen the flick on an outdoor IMAX screen at Comic-Con.
At the Star Trek Beyond fan event JJ Abrahms announced that because of Justin Lin, Paramount was dropping the lawsuit against Axanar.
— Axanar Productions (@StarTrekAxanar) May 21, 2016
According to Abrams, the movie’s director Justin Lin heard about the lawsuit, was personally troubled as a fan and pushed for a resolution. As you can see in the Periscope stream embedded below from Trek.fm, he said that in the next few weeks it will be announced that the lawsuit is going away. Now, in a statement to Buzzfeed reporter Adam Vary, CBS/Paramount lawyers have said that they are in settlement talks and plan to set up guidelines for future fan films. All in all, it’s probably a good call to stop antagonizing the fanbase before releasing a new movie, so it’s not too surprising that all of this news came at once.
Breaking News: Star Trek Axanar lawsuit is going away… pic.twitter.com/Sgc8K983BO
— Trek.fm (@trekfm) May 21, 2016
Source: Axanar Productions (Twitter), Axanar (Kickstarter), Trek.fm (Twitter)
Even as Ultra HD Blu-ray discs continue to trickle out, in the US there’s only one option to play them — Samsung’s UBD-K8500. That should change next month as Philips introduces its own Ultra HD Blu-ray player. Available in two colors the BDP7501 (brushed aluminum) and BDP7301 (piano black), will cost $400, it supports HDR and also includes a second HDMI-out for audio receivers that aren’t quite 4K-ready yet. It has Dolby TrueHD Audio and DTS-HD Master Audio support included and should be able to pass through Dolby Atmos or DTS:X encoded audio tracks. Its apps will also stream 4K from YouTube and Netflix.
Right now the price only matches Samsung’s UHD player, but hopefully a little competition will make players more affordable. The Philips brand in the US is manufactured by Funai, so we wouldn’t expect to see this player available elsewhere under the same brand name, but Panasonic has already launched its own Ultra HD Blu-ray player in the UK, and we expect to see it in the US later this year.
Google’s new “rich cards” format will make googling on your phone a more visual experience than what you’re used to. It’s sort of an evolved version of rich snippets, those search results that come with small images and a short sample of the web page’s text, though it’s not supposed to replace the older format altogether. The company is rolling out the feature for recipes and movies first. So, if you’re doing a search for, say, X-Men: Apocalypse or a recipe for chocolate pie, you might see a carousel of cards right on top of the results page that can scroll sideways. For now, you can only encounter rich cards if you’re using the English version of Google.com, but the company will likely roll it out for more categories and languages in the future.
Back in March, Google gave a sneak peek at its upcoming mobile operating system, Android N. While the final version of the OS won’t be available until summer, the company announced more Android N features, as well as a few other initiatives, at its annual developer’s conference in May.
Currently, Android is the most popular mobile OS in the world. In addition to beefed-up security updates and new emojis, N will integrate Google’s interactive Assistant service and better battery efficiency. For now, we’re getting a taste of what the new flavor of Android will have, with more features to come. Let’s take a look at the top new features Google has divulged so far.
Google I/O 2016: Daydream, Home and other…
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The new Assistant software will let you engage in more natural back-and-forth dialogue with the Android device than you can with Now (Google’s current digital and search assistant), in order to get things done, like research a restaurant and make a reservation through OpenTable.
Timed with the release of N but also available on phones running OS versions as old as Android Jelly Bean, Instant Apps lets you access or use certain apps without having to download and install said apps. This is especially useful for digital payment transactions, where you can pay with Android Pay instead of whatever system the app would have made you use.
Looking at two apps at once will become standard on Android phones and tablets. With multiwindow, you can see apps in a split screen. This feature has been available on Samsung and LG phones for a few years, and now it’ll come to many more Android devices. It’s also very similar to what the Apple iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 4 and iPad Pro can do, thanks to Apple’s latest OS, iOS 9.
Check out two apps at once with multiwindow.
Google’s adding a picture-in-picture option for apps that play video, too, similar to what we’ve seen on the iPad Air. That means, you should be able to watch a YouTube video while also browsing Twitter, or perhaps check email while watching a movie through Google Play.
Reply in a notification
Brought over from Android Wear watches, Google now lets you reply to text messages from the notification shade. When you get a new message, a little alert will pop up at the top of the screen and you can type your reply right there and go back to what you were doing. iOS has had a similar feature for awhile, so it’s great to see it come to Android.
Bundles of notifications
If your notification menu is a mess of alerts, this feature might help. Developers will be able to group together notifications from their app. You’ll see a bundle of notifications from each app in the menu, and you’ll just tap the bundle to expand it and see each individual alert.
Again, iOS has something like this for its notification menu that you have to manually toggle on, so it’s a welcome addition to Android too.
Doze on the Go
Android 6.0 Marshmallow was the first to get Doze, a battery-saving setting that halts background computing that kicks in when your phone is not in use and sitting still. Doze on the Go does the same thing, except your phone can be in motion (like if it’s inside your pocket sitting idle). Google’s also working on Project Svelte, which aims to reduce the amount of memory Android needs. The goal is to bring the latest versions of Android to more devices, especially those with lower-end specs.
Similar to Apple’s Night Shift feature, Night Mode aims to reduce eye strain from viewing a bright display at night. This setting tints the screen yellow, which keeps you less revved up in later hours than the usual blue tint. You can also adjust the brightness and tint of the sepia hue.
With Google’s #NameAndroidN campaign, enthusiasts can submit name suggestions for the latest OS.
Screenshot by Lynn La/CNET
Though we’ve seen a lot of sneak peeks, we still don’t know everything that’ll come to the final release of the OS. We don’t have a version number or a sweet-themed name yet (though Google will “allow” fans to submit suggestions). If you can’t wait until the summer rollout, however, a beta version is already available for Google Nexus 6P, 5X, 6, 9 and Pixel C tablet owners to test.