Friday, May 20, 2016

WATCH: Google I/O ATAP Session Covering Project Ara, Soli, and Jacquard

At last, Google has posted the ATAP session from Google I/O in its entirety to YouTube, and seriously, you all need to watch it. It’s the future. During this hour-long session, the ATAP team goes over many of the projects they are working to bring to consumers, such as Project Jacquard (smart fabrics), Project Soli (mini radars that make smartwatches the shiznit), and of course, all of the details regarding Project Ara. It’s all there, delivered in a way only Google could do.

Watch it and then embrace it, for it is the not-too-distant future most likely.

WATCH: Google I/O ATAP Session Covering Project Ara, Soli, and Jacquard is a post from: Droid Life

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Poll: Will You Buy a Chromebook Once They Get Android Apps?

Google’s big day 2 announcement at Google I/O centered around the Google Play store and Android apps making their way onto Chromebooks. I followed up that news by writing up a bunch (probably too many) of words on why I think this is a major game-changer and potentially puts the final nail in the Android tablet coffin.

In the early days, we talked about Chromebooks not being powerful enough and lacking the utilities many of us needed to get by on most days. With Android apps, that could (and should) all change, since Google Play includes an app for just about every single one of our favorite PC services.

Obviously, I think this is a huge deal and will take a great deal of time to test out the new functionality once it arrives, but I’m curious to know what the majority of you are thinking now. Are Android apps on Chromebooks enough to get you to buy one? If not, why?

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.

Poll: Will You Buy a Chromebook Once They Get Android Apps? is a post from: Droid Life

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Google’s Project Jacquard Introduces Levi’s Trucker Jacket, Arrives Next Year

The inner geek in all of us should still be giggling at all of the fun stuff Google’s ATAP team announced on stage today at Google I/O. If you missed it, we’ll be sure to share the session once it has been uploaded.

The ATAP team not only gave us a tour of the latest in Project Ara happenings, but they showed off an amazing Project Soli smartwatch concept, and told us when to expect the first consumer clothing item with embedded Project Jacquard.

Through a partnership with Levi’s, we’ll all be able to buy a new jacket that is outfitted with Jacquard technologies within the next year. The jacket is called the Commuter Trucker jacket and it was designed for city bike commuters, or those who just want a sweet new denim jacket with some tech inside. 

Not familiar with Jacquard? It was first unveiled at Google I/O last year as a fabric that was weaved with technology, so that you could touch it or swipe gestures across it to perform tasks through a smartphone or other device. Think about swiping across your pants to change music tracks, answer a call, etc.

It took some time for them to get the weave perfected for this denim jacket, but they have reached the point where they are ready to start production, again, only a year after they first showed off the concept.

Below, you can see the dongle-esque (or “smart tag”) device that powers the weave, along with the subtle weaved pattern that you can touch. That smart tag can be removed when you are ready to wash your jacket. I don’t know that they have specifically mentioned this, but that smart tag likely has Bluetooth and a battery which connects to your phone to make the magic happen.

levis commuter trucker jacket jacquard

This is only the first of what could be many articles of clothing to adopt Jacquard. But for now, you can see how close the future is and how smart everything in our lives has become.

In these couple of clips, you will get to see how they make the denim for this jacket with Jacquard embedded and also what it could be like for a biker commuter to use the jacket during daily rides.

Making of Jacquard denim

The Commuter Trucker jacket in action

Google’s Project Jacquard Introduces Levi’s Trucker Jacket, Arrives Next Year is a post from: Droid Life

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Google Demos Project Soli on Smartwatch, Crowd Goes Wild

Project Soli was demonstrated inside of a prototype smartwatch this morning on the last day of Google I/O, which had the developer crowd cheering quite loudly. Project Soli is Google’s attempt to remove the physical interaction we have with tech devices, and I do mean that literally.

By minimizing the size of radar chips, which is no easy task by any means, Project Soli reacts to air gestures made by a user, then interprets that data into commands for a smartwatch or other various devices, such as a Bluetooth speaker. For example, if a user holds their hand up to a smartwatch, then does a pinch and twist motion, you could view and scroll through text on the smartwatch.

As of right now, Project Soli is nowhere near ready for consumer consumption, but with Google showing it off at Google I/O and beginning to get developers interested, it could help the company breakthrough many of the existing boundaries that are currently in place. One of those boundaries, specific to the Bluetooth speaker implementation, are the vibrations made from said speaker. Soli is developed to recognize the slightest of gesture movements in the air in front of it, but while inside of a vibrating box (speaker), the gesture interpreting becomes quite difficult. Problems such as these are what the Project Soli team are working to overcome.

However, the demo given during I/O with the smartwatch was pretty incredible, and as soon as the session is posted onto YouTube for sharing, we will update the post with it. It should be required viewing for all. In the meantime, The Verge went hands-on with Project Soli at Google HQ. Check out their video below.

Google Demos Project Soli on Smartwatch, Crowd Goes Wild is a post from: Droid Life

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Google Announces Big Project Ara Update, Consumer Phone Coming Next Year

Today during the ATAP session at Google I/O, Google provided an update on Project Ara, the modular phone concept from Google that we were starting to think might have been shelved. During the short session, Google showed off the latest prototypes, told us when to expect developer and consumer units, and maybe more importantly, showed hot swapping of modules in real-time, one of which was controlled by voice.

The full ATAP session is worth watching, once Google posts it, but for now, let’s talk about the Ara news, because it’s big. 

Google announced that developer units of Ara will be available this fall in preparation for a consumer launch next year (2017). They seem set on these dates and timelines, plus with the demos they showed today, I’m tempted to believe them.

The latest Ara prototype looks like the devices above and below. It’s simpler and more beautiful, includes six slots for swapping modules into, and is the closest we have seen to a potentially finished device. The new frame includes the phone’s CPU, GPU, antennas, sensors, battery and display, in case you were wondering.

project ara 2016

project ara 2016 project ara 2016 project ara 2016 project ara 2016

Modules are connected to it via new latch system to help modules stay locked on securely. They connect to the phone through Google’s Greybus software, that allows instant connections of modules to immediately work with Android (and transfer data up to 11.9 Gbps). That basically means hot-swapping.

To detach, you can tell the Ara app to release a module, which then ejects it, or you can tell Google to do it with a command like, “OK, Google, eject camera module.” And seriously, they demoed this on stage today and it was pretty neat.

The new modules can be outfitted in different textures and finishes, helping you create a modular phone that is both functionality and unique.

Along with all of that news, the Ara team shared this video, which takes you on a day in the life of an Ara phone owner.

Pretty impressive stuff from ATAP and Ara. Now, let’s see if they can hit those promised timelines. To learn more, head over to the updated Ara site.

Google Announces Big Project Ara Update, Consumer Phone Coming Next Year is a post from: Droid Life

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Report: LG Pay’s White Card to Feature IC Chip

Over the past few months, more details have surfaced regarding LG Pay, the company’s mobile payments platform that should launch at some point, although, there is no concrete info on when we should expect it. It was even rumored it would launch this past January, but that didn’t happen. Anyway, a new report out of Korea states that the White Card, which is the consumer-facing end to LG Pay, will feature an IC (Integrated Circuit) chip.

Anyone reading this who has a new credit card probably knows what an IC chip is, as the chips are becoming more widely adopted by financial institutions all across the world. To sum it up, IC chips help protect your credit card data from fraud and cloning, utilizing on-the-spot encryption methods. 

Not only will LG’s White Card feature the IC Chip, but will still work via the traditional MS (magnetic stripe) means. That allows the White Card to not only work at pretty much any terminal now, but any terminal that gets upgraded in the future to only work with IC chips, as they are becoming the worldwide standard for credit card payments.

As a refresher, think of White Card like a master key for your existing catalog of credit and debit cards. Once you upload all of your banking and credit card details onto White Card, you can use this single card for all of your purchasing needs, sort of like Coin used to do with the Coin 2.0 hardware.

Are you pumped for LG Pay and White Card?

Via: ETNews

Report: LG Pay’s White Card to Feature IC Chip is a post from: Droid Life

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Chromebooks Just Killed the Tablet

If you are at all considering an Android tablet purchase at the moment, feel free to stop. I say that because in a couple of weeks, Android apps and the Google Play store will arrive on select Chromebooks. By the end of the year, those same apps will arrive on dozens and dozens of additional Chromebooks at varying prices and in a variety of forms, some of which can emulate a tablet experience. This major move of Android apps onto Chromebooks from Google has all but eliminated the need for Android tablets to even exist.

Let me explain. 

Tablets were created years ago as bigger screened versions of our smartphones because we all thought that on a bigger screen, you could do more, become more productive, and maybe even get rid of your laptop. That, of course, hasn’t happened because tablet operating systems (or blown up versions of Android and iOS) are pretty simple in form and lack the powerful multi-tasking a traditional computer can offer. Sure, they may offer better mobile media experiences because they are often more portable, but the lack of powerful features have made them difficult choices over a Macbook or Windows laptop. With Chromebooks now running Android apps along with Chrome OS, I think we may be stepping into a world of pure mobile bliss that finds the perfect middle ground of laptop and tablet.


Yesterday, Google showed the media Google Play and Android apps working seamlessly on a Chromebook. The apps run just like you would hope they would run on your phone or tablet, but they do so in stand-alone windows, sort of like you see on any other computer. Just keep in mind that this isn’t the limited PC app selection you probably complain about – this is the Google Play app selection with millions and millions of apps that you have been using for years. On Chromebooks, all of your favorite apps (Evernote, Instagram, Facebook, Robinhood, Alphabear, Houzz, Wunderlist, etc.) are going to be available and will just work.

Wondering how that’s going to play out? According to Google, Android apps on Chromebooks can be displayed in 3 different window sizes, users can multi-task between them in moveable windows along with the desktop Chrome browser, they gain access to keyboard, mouse, and touch input, can file share with Chrome OS, and even show notifications! In other words, you get everything you want from Android apps and then some, because you can run them while doing PC-like multi-tasking.

Google showed us examples that included editing an image in the Android Photoshop app before saving it and then adding it to a document in Microsoft’s Word for Android, all on a Chromebook running Chrome OS. They played games on a touch screen too. They even made mention of being surprised that Facebook Messenger’s chat heads works out of the box. That means the days of you having to keep using your phone for specific apps that aren’t available on your computer and your computer for everything else, are over with, assuming you own a Chromebook.

So how is this going to kill the tablet?

Outside of the fact that you will now have the bigger-screened software and Android experience the world was asking for, Chromebooks will kill the tablet because Chromebooks are only getting better with each passing month, yet they aren’t necessarily getting any more expensive. Google has its ridiculously priced Pixel line, but you can get into a convertible Chromebook that folds flat like a tablet for under $300. Look at the Chromebook below. That’s the Acer Chromebook R11, with a foldable design that turns the notebook-esque device into a touchscreen tablet when needed. It has a 11-inch multi-touch display, 2GB RAM, 32GB storage, Intel Celeron processor, USB ports (both 2.0 and 3.0), SD card reader, and 9.5 hour battery life. It costs $279 and will be one of the first on the planet to get access to Google Play.

Yep, I’ll pause for a minute while you run off to the Google Store to buy one.


Are you starting to smell the death?

Few make Android tablets these days because they are a tough sell. Android just never became a great bigger-screened operating system and failed to prove to doubters that buying a tablet running Android, was a worthy investment. With all of our favorite Android apps coming to Chromebooks that can become tablets, you will be getting the Android experience you always hoped for on a bigger screen, only it’ll also be affordable.

Oh, you will also never have to worry about slow updates (Google provides and applies them automatically on Chromebooks) or security issues (those are patched automatically too).

The future will only get brighter too. Because Google Play has come to Chromebooks, my guess is that we’ll see innovation ramp up around design (detachable displays, anyone?) and companies pushing forward with even higher-spec’d devices than the sub $300 options you see today. Chromebooks will kill the Android tablet and that’s probably for the best.

Chromebooks Just Killed the Tablet is a post from: Droid Life

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Samsung Announces 10nm LPDDR4 6GB DRAM, Likely to be Used in Galaxy Note 6

At the Samsung Mobile Solutions Forum this week in China, Samsung unveiled its 10-nanometer LPDDR4 6GB mobile DRAM (dynamic random-access memory), which is likely to be used in the upcoming Galaxy Note 6 flagship device. Without diving into technical specifics, the upping of RAM  should allow for better battery life and improved smartphone performance overall.

During the forum, Samsung also spoke about its “super-fast” UFS built-in memory, Dual Pixel image sensors, improvements to AMOLED technology, lithium battery product line (smartphones, wearables, etc.), charging technologies, and wireless WiFi modules. From that list, it appears Samsung focused on smartphones the entire time, which is fine with us.

Right now, there are only a few reported specs for the Galaxy Note 6 floating around, including a 5.8″ AMOLED display, Snapdragon 823 processor, USB Type-C, and IP68 water resistance.

Bring on the RAM, Samsung.

Via: SamMobile | huanqiu

Samsung Announces 10nm LPDDR4 6GB DRAM, Likely to be Used in Galaxy Note 6 is a post from: Droid Life

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Winners of the First Google Play Awards Include Robinhood, Houzz, Alphabear

During an evening presentation at Google I/O last night, Google announced winners for their first ever Google Play Awards. After announcing a handful of apps for a handful of categories (like “Best use of Material Design” and “Best game”) a few weeks back, we now know who reigns supreme in the eyes of Google’s “panel of experts on the Google Play team.” 

And the winners are:

  • Best app: Houzz
  • Best families app: Thinkrolls 2
  • Best game: Clash Royale
  • Best use of Material Design: Robinhood
  • Best use of Google Play Game Services: Table Tennis Touch
  • Early adopter: World Around Me
  • Go global: Pokemon Shuffle Mobile
  • Most innovative: NYT VR
  • Standout indie: Alphabear
  • Standout startup: Hopper

Big user of any of those apps? Houzz is certainly a wonderful app that probably deserves the win there. Robinhood is also a very well made app. I haven’t used many of the others, but really would have liked to have seen Alto’s Adventure snag the “best game” award.

Via:  Android Developers

Winners of the First Google Play Awards Include Robinhood, Houzz, Alphabear is a post from: Droid Life

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