Google Glass Update Will Add Web Browser and New Voice Control Functionality

Subject: General Tech | July 1, 2013 - 08:29 PM |
Tagged: web browser, hands-free, google glasses, google glass, google

Later this week, Google is updating its Glass, well, glasses to add new features. Among the new features, Google is including a full web browser and a couple of new voice controls.

The full web browser will output to the Glass display and can be accessed by hitting the appropriate button. Users will be able to access the web using the Wi-Fi chip, and it will be controlled by the touchpad and motion controls. For example, users can scroll pages by moving a single finger forward on the touchpad. Zooming is handled by using a two finger guesture on the touchpad. Finally, while zoomed in, users can move their head around to pan around the page.

The motion control bit is actually an intuitive idea, though I expect bystanders will find those browsing the web on their Glass a bit odd as they hold two fingers to their glasses and move their head about. (Hopefully people do not try browsing reddit while walking, however.)
 

The upcoming Google Glass update also adds a few more voice controls to the mix. Using voice commands beginning with "ok glass," users will be able to reply to text messages, answer calls, and send photos to other people on their contact list.

Finally, Google has lifted the contact list restriction from a list of ten friends. Users can now access their entire Gmail contact list.

I'm glad that Google is continuing to improve the Glass software. According to The Verge, this new update will be rolled out over the next few days to the Explorer Edition units currently in the hands of developers. I'm looking forward to the final consumer release.

Read more about Google Glass at PC Perspective.

Source: The Verge

Outbound Phone Call Support Coming to Hangouts (Within Gmail Interface) Soon

Subject: General Tech | May 20, 2013 - 12:42 PM |
Tagged: google voice, google talk, google hangouts, google

One of the neat features of the chat application built into the Gmail web interface is the ability to receive and place phone calls to and from your Google Voice number. And unlike the Google Voice interface, calls placed using the Gmail Talk chat widget are completely free.

Unfortunately, the new Hangouts replacement (currently not mandatory) brought over from Google + does not support the calling features of Google Talk. As such, users wanting to call phones and not just video chat with other Google + users will need to stick with the old Google Talk chat or use Google Voice and pay for outbound calls.

Google Hangouts.jpg

The good news is that the phone call features will be rolled into the new Hangouts feature eventually. According to Google employee Nikhyl Singhal, “outbound/inbound calls will soon be available.” He also indicated that future versions of Hangouts will further integrate the feature set of Google Voice (which likely refers to SMS). Unless you particularly want video chatting, I would recommend sticking with Google Talk until the new version of Hangouts is more fleshed out.

Google Rolling Out Play Store Redesign That Emphasizes Larger Images and Faster Checkouts

Subject: Mobile | April 10, 2013 - 07:45 AM |
Tagged: google play, google, froyo, appstore, Android

Google has begun a worldwide rollout of its re-designed Google Play store for Android smartphones and tablets. Over the next few weeks, users will be presented with a new, and simplified, user interface for the Play store.

Mobile devices running Android 2.2 (Froyo) and above will recieve the update. The redesign has moved to a simpler layout that groups similar content together and uses larger images to draw in the user's attention. A continuous scroll feature will introduce recommendations for related content as you scroll down.

Google Play store Home Page on a Smartphone.jpg

Google has also reportedly simplified the checkout process, in order to reduce the time between buying an app, purchasing an MP3, or renting a movie and actually being able to begin consuming the content.

From Google's blog post and what little screenshots they have shown off of the new layout, I think Google has made some positive changes here, but I'll reserve final judgement once I've been able to test it out for myself.

Has your Android device received the Play store update yet?

Source: Android Blog

HP Announces New 14" Chromebook

Subject: General Tech | February 5, 2013 - 04:08 AM |
Tagged: pavilion 14, hp, google, Chromebook

HP recently launched the Pavilion 14 Chromebok, which is a notebook running Google’s Chrome OS operating system and suite of web applications. The Pavilion 14 Chromebook is a 14” laptop measuring 0.83-inches thick and weighing 3.96 pounds.

HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook.jpg

The new Chromebook is based on one of HP’s existing Windows laptops–the Sleekbook 14-b010us. It features a 14” screen with a resolution of 1366x768, full qwerty keyboard and track pad,  and a webcam.
External IO includes:

  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x Ethernet (10/100)
  • 1 x Card reader
  • 1 x Headphone jack

The system is powered by a dual core Intel Celeron 847 clocked at 1.1 GHz, 2GB of RAM, and a 16GB solid state drive (SSD). Dual-band 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 radios are included, but unlike other Chromebooks there is no cellular connectivity out of the box. Further, Google is providing 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage for free (for two years). HP estimates system battery life at 4.25 hours.

HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook_angle.jpg

The Pavilion 14 Chromebook is available now on HP’s website for $329.99. That makes it one of the most expensive Chromebooks on the market. Chrome OS has come a long way, and even includes a minimal desktop. The hardware looks nice, but I would have liked to see a higher resolution display along with cellular modem for the price, however. It will be interesting to see how well the larger 14" form factor sells.

Source: Google

The Reviews Are In For Google's Latest Nexus 10 Tablet

Subject: General Tech | November 2, 2012 - 12:47 PM |
Tagged: tablet, nexus 10, jelly bean, google, android 4.2, Android

Reviews of Google’s latest Nexus 10 tablet are starting to pop up around the web, and the results are a bit mixed -- mostly positive with the price being its saving grace. The display and inclusion of Android 4.2 is nice, but will it dethrone the iPad? It's time to find out!

As a refresher, the Nexus 10 is 10” tablet powered by a dual core ARM Cortex-A15 system on a chip. On the outside, it has a 10.055” touchscreen display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 (300 ppi, 16:10), 5MP rear camera, and a 1.9MP webcam on the front of the tablet.

nexus10-1.png

External IO includes micro USB, micro HDMI, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Internally, the Nexus 10 features a dual core Samsung Exynos 5250 SoC clocked at 1.7GHz, a Mali T604 GPU, 2GB of RAM, and either 16GB or 32GB of storage. A 9,000 mAh battery is also preset. Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and NFC radios are also included. The new tablet is also running an updated version of Jelly Bean Google has dubbed Android 4.2.

The 16GB model is listed at $399 while the 32GB Nexus 10 is $499. Both models will be available on November 13th.

What do you think of the Nexus 10?

Reviews roundup:

There's more than one way to make money from Jelly Beans

Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2012 - 01:28 PM |
Tagged: asus, google, nexus 7, andriod, jelly bean

While many PC and component manufacturers are having a rough time in 2012, ASUS is not one.  Thanks to their wholehearted adoption of Android devices like the Nexus 7 they have seen their income from mobile devices jump from 7% of their revenue to 16%.  That total revenue also had significant growth, their profits are 43% higher than this quarter a year ago.  That growth rate is very impressive in the current economy and seems to refute many analyst's predictions that we are moving into a post PC market.  ASUS also has to thank their Transformer series as the paired tablet and keyboard device is proving quite popular and will be one of the main competitors to Microsoft's new Surface devices.  ASUS told The Register they plan to become the second largest seller of tablets and the largest retailer of touch devices.

P_500.jpg

"Asus to you and me - has pulled a surprise jump in profit out of the bag as its tablets make up for slow PC sales.

The Taiwanese firm reported its largest quarterly profit in more than four years, spurred by its partnership with Google on the Nexus 7 and the enduring popularity of its own-brand snap-on keyboard fondletops."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Samsung Launches New ARM-Powered XE303C12 Chromebook

Subject: General Tech | October 20, 2012 - 06:40 PM |
Tagged: xe303c12, Samsung, laptop, google, Exynos 5250, Chromebook, chrome os, arm

While Android gets most of the attention, it is not the only operating system from Google. Chrome OS was released two years ago, and despite the rising popularity of smartphones and tablets, it is still very much alive and kicking on the cloud-connected “Chromebooks.”

In fact, earlier this week Samsung announced a brand new Chromebook powered by its own Exynos 5250 ARM System of a Chip (SoC). The new system is lighter than the company’s previous Chromebook offerings at 2.43 pounds and is less than an inch thick. The specifications are not impressive for a laptop, but in the context of a Chromebook where much of the processing is done on Internet-connected servers the internals should ensure that you get good battery life – up to 6.3 hours – out of the mobile machine.

Samsung Chromebook.jpg

The 11.6” Chromebook has a display with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, 1.5W stereo speakers, and a full physical keyboard with trackpad.

External I/O options include:

  • 1 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x Headphone/Mic combo jack
  • 1 x SD card slot

The USB 3.0 option is interesting, and should allow you to hook up fast external storage should you need more caching space for offline use.

On the outside, the Chromebook very much resembles a standard laptop, but on the inside it is closer to the specifications of a smartphone or tablet. Interestingly, Samsung has chosen its Exynos 5250 system on a chip to power the XE303C12 Chromebook. That processor is packing two Cortex A15-based ARM CPU cores and an ARM Mali T604 GPU. While the Exynos 15 is capable of clocking up to 2GHz, it is unclear whether or not the Chromebook will feature chips clocked at that speed or not. It is certainly a possibility though, since the laptop form factor would provide ample cooling versus a more constrained smartphone or tablet. Beyond the SoC, Samsung has packed in 2GB of RAM and a 16GB solid state drive (SSD). Additionally, the XE303C12 Chromebook includes a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip – useful for business uses – and 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi radio with a 2x2 antenna configuration.

The new Samsung Chromebook is available for pre-order now, and will be officially available for purchase at Best Buy, Amazon, Newegg, and other retailers beginning October 22, 2012. It has an MSRP of $249.99.

I’m interested to see how this compared to the Windows RT offerings, and whether the cheaper price will win people over versus those devices. On the other hand, it may be that Android tablets – like the Nexus 7, Nook Tablet, and new Kindle Fire tablets – are the favored devices for all but road warriors needing a decent keyboard. What do you think?

Source: Samsung

Microsoft desires it's name on hardware so much it is willing to compete with its self

Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2012 - 10:49 AM |
Tagged: microsoft, win8, surface, google, Android, nexus 7, Samsung, Pegatron

Two companies which for the most part sold software only are making a name for themselves in the hardware sector, in two very different ways.  Google's Android has become quite a player and the upcoming release of the Nexus 7 platform is anticipated by many mobile players because Google has no intentions of making its own phones.  Instead they will make their money licensing the platform to a variety of established cellphone and tablet manufacturers, as they have in the past.  According to what DigiTimes has heard, Microsoft is going in the exact opposite direction with Surface and will be continuing with the same plan as their tablet, which has already caused negative backlash from many of the major player in the market such as Acer.  Designers of Microsoft Win8 based phones are required to use the same platform and interface in order to meet the requirements of Microsoft's licensing agreement which will make phones difficult to differentiate as competitors are very limited in the customization they can offer, at least on the software side.  To make the market even more confusing, Microsoft is reaching out to Pegatron to manufacture their own branded Surface phone, which will find its self in direct competition with the phones from established players, the ones Microsoft is count on to license the portable version of Win8.  It would be hard to come up with another way that Microsoft could make licensing their new OS even less attractive for OEMs and ODMs.

surface.jpg

"Google and Microsoft both reportedly plan to extend the Nexus 7 and Surface tablet lineups to include smartphones as a means to further increase the penetration of their own platforms, but the two companies will implement the strategies in a different tune, according to industry sources.

Google aims to launch smartphones based on its Nexus 7 platform in cooperation with a number of smartphone branded vendors with Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Sony Mobile Communications and HTC likely to be potential partners, said the sources.

On the other hand, Microsoft is reportedly tapping ODM maker Pegatron for the production of WP8-based smartphones slated for launch in the first half of 2013, the sources indicated."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction and Design

 

P1070137.JPG
 
Samsung played a little trick on me when I reviewed the Samsung Series 5 earlier this year. You see, I barely finished my review of it when – surprise! – Samsung announced the new Series 5 550.
 
With that said, I can forgive them. They sent me the new model to review as well. It is a complete redesign both inside and out. The updated exterior is built with better quality materials and is only available in silver instead of your choice of white or black. 
 
Inside, Samsung has thrown Atom aside and replaced it with an Intel Celeron 867. This part uses the Sandy Bridge architecture and offers two cores clocked at 1.3 GHz. It, of course, lacks the Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost features found in some Core series products.
 
samsung550table.png
 
The rest of the laptop is similar to the previous model. The display size is the same and the hard drive is still a 16GB SSD instead of a standard mechanical hard drive. Going with a Sandy Bridge part has also upgraded the graphics, so the pathetic GMA 3150 found in the previous Chromebooks has been replaced with Intel HD, albeit a low-power version with a base clock of 350 MHz and a maximum clock of 1 GHz.
 
These improvements have resulted in a price adjustment that brings the new Series 5 back in line with the debut price of the original. You can expect to pay $450 for the Wi-Fi model or $550 for the 3G version. Consumers who opt for the 3G version receive 2 years of free service from Verizon, but the data cap is a strict 100MB per month. That’s enough for occasional web browsing but not enough for serious use. 
 
Increasing the price puts the Samsung Series 5 back in competition with budget ultraportables like the ASUS 1225B and the Lenovo X130e. Can the Chromebook and Chrome OS hold up against such competitors? Let’s find out.
 

More on Google's $200 Jellybean

Subject: Mobile | August 1, 2012 - 11:25 AM |
Tagged: google, nexus 7, andriod, jellybean, tablet, tegra 3

By now you may be familiar with the Tegra 3 powered, 1280x800 IPS display Nexus 7, but if you've been away then The Tech Report can fill you in on what you have missed.  At 7.8" x 4.7" the resolution is a respectable 216 pixels per inch as well as being of a nice size for both portability and usability.  The mini USB port can come in handy in several ways but the one thing it cannot do is offer you external storage for your Nexus 7 which is a bit of a pain considering there is a $50 premium on the 16GB model over the 8GB base.  There are some flaws but considering that at $200 it is significantly less expensive than its competitors, there is a lot of good things to say about Google's new tablet.

TR_money.jpg

"For just $199, Google's Nexus 7 tablet serves up a 1280x800 display, a Tegra 3 SoC, and the very latest version of Android. We take a closer look at the budget wonder and break out our high-speed camera to capture Jelly Bean's responsiveness improvements in action."

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