Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | July 7, 2014 - 01:06 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: tegra k1, OpenGL ES, opengl, Khronos, google io, google, android extension pack, Android
Sure, this is a little late. Honestly, when I first heard the announcement, I did not see much news in it. The slide from the keynote (below) showed four points: Tesselation, Geometry Shaders, Computer [sic] Shaders, and ASTC Texture Compression. Honestly, I thought tesselation and geometry shaders were part of the OpenGL ES 3.1 spec, like compute shaders. This led to my immediate reaction: "Oh cool. They implemented OpenGL ES 3.1. Nice. Not worth a news post."
Image Credit: Blogogist
Apparently, they were not part of the ES 3.1 spec (although compute shaders are). My mistake. It turns out that Google is cooking their their own vendor-specific extensions. This is quite interesting, as it adds functionality to the API without the developer needing to target a specific GPU vendor (INTEL, NV, ATI, AMD), waiting for approval from the Architecture Review Board (ARB), or using multi-vendor extensions (EXT). In other words, it sounds like developers can target Google's vendor without knowing the actual hardware.
Hiding the GPU vendor from the developer is not the only reason for Google to host their own vendor extension. The added features are mostly from full OpenGL. This makes sense, because it was announced with NVIDIA and their Tegra K1, Kepler-based SoC. Full OpenGL compatibility was NVIDIA's selling point for the K1, due to its heritage as a desktop GPU. But, instead of requiring apps to be programmed with full OpenGL in mind, Google's extension pushes it to OpenGL ES 3.1. If the developer wants to dip their toe into OpenGL, then they could add a few Android Extension Pack features to their existing ES engine.
Epic Games' Unreal Engine 4 "Rivalry" Demo from Google I/O 2014.
The last feature, ASTC Texture Compression, was an interesting one. Apparently the Khronos Group, owners of OpenGL, were looking for a new generation of texture compression technologies. NVIDIA suggested their ZIL technology. ARM and AMD also proposed "Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression". ARM and AMD won, although the Khronos Group stated that the collaboration between ARM and NVIDIA made both proposals better than either in isolation.
Android Extension Pack is set to launch with "Android L". The next release of Android is not currently associated with a snack food. If I was their marketer, I would block out the next three versions as 5.x, and name them (L)emon, then (M)eringue, and finally (P)ie.
Would I do anything with the two skipped letters before pie? (N)(O).
Subject: General Tech | July 31, 2012 - 11:42 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: streaming media, nexus q, google io, google
Google’s Nexus Q was launched at this year’s Google I/O developer conference. The US-assembled streaming media
box sphere was given out to developers and journalists attending the event to play around with, with general consumer availability set for mid-July. The device is quite the feat of engineering, and packs some high-end hardware. Aside from being built in the US, a good portion of the $299 cost comes from the inclusion of a 25 watt amplifier that is reportedly of “audiophile quality.”
The hardware is all well and good, but the software component of the Nexus Q currently leaves a lot to be desired. It is heavily dependent on Google’s Play services. In fact, without hacking the device it can only play media streamed from Google Play’s cloud server.
As a result, many speculated (as did I) that, while an interesting bit of hardware, the lack of support for playing your other media would severely detract from its desirability. The multi-room functionality, group playlists, and amplifier are neat, but the Nexus Q would be worth much more if it could play back media from other sources–especially with a $299 asking price.
According to Wired, Google has taken the feedback to heart. It has announced that it is delaying the launch in order to add new functionality to the device. In an email to those that pre-ordered, the company stated that:
“In response, we have decided to postpone the consumer launch of Nexus Q while we work on making it even better.”
The company has pulled the pre-order option from the Google Play page, but those that have existing pre-orders will still be getting the device. Within the next few weeks, people that pre-ordered will be getting a Nexus Q–and here’s the best part–at no cost (I really wish I would have gone through with that pre-order now hehe). Google has decided to extend the Google Preview program to everyone that pre-ordered the device. As such, people will be getting free Nexus Q devices to play around with.
Unfortunately, Google has not stated exactly what new functionality they will be adding to the final Nexus Q devices. Also, there is no word on exactly when they will start to go on sale again.
As it is packing similar hardware to the Galaxy Nexus, it is capable of running the full Android OS and its related applications. It does seem likely that Google is working on adding the ability to run other Android applications besides the existing Play Music and Play Movies & TV apps. Considering Android already supports VLC, Spotify, Netflix, Remote Potato and other media applications, they would add considerable value to the Nexus Q should Google allow such apps to be installed.
Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2012 - 07:22 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, nexus 7, jelly bean, google io, google, Android
The Nexus 7 is not even shipping yet, and it has already been torn apart to see what it is made of. The folks over at the ifixit website have managed to get their hands on the newly-announced 7" tablet. After breaking open the outer case and dismantling it far past what I would be comfortable doing to my own tablet, they found that it is relatively easy to take apart and repair. The tablet is a single millimeter thicker than the iPad, but that extra bit of space allowed Google and ASUS to use retaining clips to hold the back and front outer panels together instead of the glue used in the iPad. Using glue made for a slightly thinner tablet but it is much harder to take apart and put back together correctly, as Will and Norm of Tested discovered.
From the ifixit teardown. The battery is easily replaceable.
Inside the tablet is a large batter, “L” shaped motherboard, front facing camera, two speaker drivers, microphone, and display. The battery looks to be very easy to replace as it is not soldered onto any other hardware and is only secured by a bit of glue. Unfortunately, the display is another story. It is reportedly fused to the Gorilla Glass covering, which means that if the screen cracks – even the display itself is not damaged (only the Gorilla Glass) – users will have to replace the entire screen assembly. There is a small bit of recompense in that the tablet does not utilize any proprietary or security screws, it uses Philips #00 throughout.
For more details on the exact hardware chips used, and to see the new 7” tablet taken apart to see what makes it tick (or not, rather) head on over to the iFixIt tear down guide.
Other tablet news:
- More iPad Mini rumors at Tom's Hardware
- Amazon prepping Kindle Fire 2 for August launch? at Tablet-News
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 ban upheld by US District Court at ArsTechnica
- Google I/O at PC Perspective
Subject: General Tech | June 29, 2012 - 03:47 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, Nexus, jelly bean, google io, google, Android
We first saw an ASUS 7” tablet at CES 2012. That tablet would quickly drop off the radar only to emerge again at this year’s Google I/O developer conference as the Google Nexus 7. The Nexus 7 is a 7” tablet that closely resembles the original ASUS model but tweaks the case and knocks the price down to $199.
Specifications include a quad core Tegra 3 processor with 12-core GPU component, 8GB or 16GB of storage space, and 1GB of RAM. Other features include WiFi, NFC, and Bluetooth. Further, Google announced during its Day 1 keynote that the Nexus 7 weighs in at 340 grams and offers up to 9 hours of video playback time. All that hardware drives Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and an IPS display with resolution of 1280x800 resolution.
All Things D talked with both ASUS CEO Jonney Shih and Google’s Andy Rubin about the new Google Nexus 7 tablet and how it came to be. Reportedly, ASUS had just four months to come up with a 7” tablet for Google that they could sell at cost for $200. Both of those added up to a tight time schedule with 24-hour development cycle and a tablet that was mostly similar to its CES tablet but at the lower Google price point. Dubbed Project A Team internally, ASUS added a number of new people to the tablet project and moved engineers around the work – including some postings in Silicon Valley so that they could work closely with Google. It also enabled ASUS to work around the clock on the hardware (albeit by different workers). Google has stated that ASUS was one of the few companies that could have pulled off the tablet in the short time frame given. AllThingsD quoted Google’s Andy Rubin as saying “We went from zero to working product in four months.”
On the ASUS side of things, Jonney Shih told the site that “our engineers told me it is like torture” regarding working with Google to develop the tablet. Also, he stated that Google can be a demanding company to work with. “They ask a lot.”
Granted, ASUS had a good starting point with its 370T tablet that it showed off at CES, but the difficult part was taking that same tablet and making it cost less than $200. Google’s goal with that price point was to attempt to capture the mainstream market – a market that is currently buying into the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet tablets (and accompanying ecosystems). Despite being based on Android, both Barnes and Noble and Amazon have heavily tweaked the interface and heavily tied the hardware into their content ecosystems. Google wants to do the same with its Play Store by releasing a tablet at cost on its Google Play Store that will run the latest – and bloatware-free – version of Android. The company is trying to position the Nexus 7 as the perfect tablet to consumer Play Music, Play Books, and Play Movies on. The hardware inside and out along with the latest Android OS do make it a very compelling option for people wanting a tablet with the form factor of the Kindle Fire but the full (and latest) stock version of Android. Both companies seemed to run into the Nexus 7, but in the end the pressure ASUS was under may have resulted in a "diamond in the (Android tablet) rough."
What do you think of the Nexus 7? Is it the Kindle Fire for the more tech savvy (and/or those not already heavilly invested in a competing media catalog like Itunes, Amazon Kindle, et al)?
Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2012 - 08:12 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: project glass, google+, google io, google glasses, google, explorer edition
One of the cooler presentations during today’s Google I/O Keynote events was the surprise reveal of Explorer Edition Google Glasses (the hardware emerging from Project Glass). They kicked off the presentation by live streaming a wing suit flight from a blimp using – you guessed it – Google Glasses and a Google+ Hangout. Extremely cool! The video of the event is embedded below for those that missed the live stream.
The Google Glasses have a built in camera and small transparent display mounted over the rim of the right glasses and is visible when looking slightly upwards. They have been constructed so that they are balanced, with the majority of the weight spread out behind and around the ears instead of being front-heavy and pushing down on the bridge of your nose. The Explorer (developer) Edition glasses are WiFi and Bluetooth only, and feature a touch pad on the right side and camera button on the top of the glasses rims. They further are able to locally store images or videos with the option to offload some or all of the media to your computer. (a 3G/4G modem would probably affect battery life too much to be useful).
Despite feeling a bit like a Universal Soldier, I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on a pair of Google Glasses. The catch is that they are only available to Google I/O attendees, won't ship until early 2013, and will run $1500 each. That’s a high price for what would amount to a toy for me, but it is not out of the question to expect from a developer – who in turn gets early access to the hardware and can get a head start at developing applications for it.
My only real problem with the idea of wearing Google Glasses is that the company already has a mountain of data about me (Google+, Google search history, Analytics, Adsense, Drive, Play, Android, Chrome... wow I never really have Google-fied my browsing is!), and Google Glasses sound like a device that is a bit /too perfect/ of a tool for gathering data on me and presenting me with “relevant ads” for Google to ignore! (hehe)
What do you think of Google Glasses? Could you see yourself wearing them? And if so, what would you use them for?
Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2012 - 07:48 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, google io, google drive, google, developers, conference, chrome, asus, Android
Every June, the tech world lights up with numerous tech conferences that pack dense information into a couple days (and takes weeks to fully decompress). One of the bigger conferences (by a single company, Computex is its own beast) is Google I/O.
The biggest rumor to come out concerning this year’s Google I/O announcements is an ASUS manufactured 7-inch Nexus Tablet. It is allegedly packing some high end hardware with the Tegra 3 Soc, up to 16GB of memory, IPS display, and an extremely attractive price at less than $200. Beyond that, we can expect Jelly Bean (Android 4.1) information, developer talks, software demos, and more talk of Google Wallet, and NFC technology. Heck, Google may even make a second attempt at pushing Android@Home (or maybe not heh).
Being June 27th, it is the first day of Google I/O and that means it is time for keynotes! On the schedule for today, Google has talks on the new aspects of Android, Google Play, cloud computing, Youtube cloud rendering, Google+ (including Hangouts), and new features of Google Maps. They also have talks scheduled with Google Drive information that should demo some of the things developers can do with the Drive SDK.
We are excited to see if the Nexus tablet rumors are true or not, as well as learning more about the latest version of Android. If you are interested in watching the event, check out the Google I/O schedule where you can tune into the most of the events live. The first event starts soon at 9:30am PST!
Check back later today for updates!
Update: (9:00 PST) A leaked screenshot indicates that the Nexus tablet may be called the Nexus 7.
Update: (9:30 PST) Vic Gondotra stepped on stage to kick off the Google I/O conference. He stated that there are more than 30,000 people in attendance.
What are you excited about at Google I/O? Let us know in the comments below!