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Just before the holidays, Google has pushed out a new upgrade to its Glass platform, the December update, or XE12. The new update is available for Glass Explorers, just in time to take pictures from their point of view, of their Christmas dinners. The best updates seem to be the improved iOS support, Hangouts support, and the winking, which is going to have ladies across the world swooning. The full list of updates is below:
iOS app - as we noted earlier, XE12 brings along better support for iOS. Expect an update in iTunes later in the week.
Google Play Music support has been enhanced, and the new Listen menu will let you browse playlists and open radio stations if your an All Access subscriber.
Screen lock - set a screen lock from the settings menu and anytime you deactivate Glass or take them off (if you've set-up on-head detection) the screen lock will activate.
Hangouts Glassware - now you can send and receive chats, photos and make video calls with any Hangouts contact.
YouTube Glassware - share your videos to YouTube, with support for private and public uploads.
Wink - Explorers with a new model Glass (purchased or swapped after October 28th) can now take pictures via blinking. This works with the display off, and seeing the privacy outrage over this feature should make for loads of fun.
New Google Search features - searching for how far you are from a place or how many calories are in a food is now supported.
Removed Signature from Messages - no longer will your SMS messages say Sent Through Glass. Email will, though.
Removal of Guest Mode - maintaining Guest Mode was too much strain on the programmers, says Google. It is no more. Google recommends using a "demo Google Account."
So, now Glass users can take pictures just by blinking? Imagine being at a bar, and taking a picture of something near a woman... you're constantly blinking (or winking), this is going to end up with some incredible stories, and a few smashed Glass devices.
Pebble has just announced its new project, the Pebble Education Project, where it donated some 4,000 Pebble smartwatches to CS and engineering students at CMU, Stanford, MIT, Virginia Tech and other tech schools across the United States.
The estimated cost to Pebble is around $600,000, but giving out its smartwatches to tech-based schools is only going to result in returned business for the smartwatch maker. Thousands of applications for the Pebble have been received, with the new SDK being unleashed, it should be good times ahead for the Pebble smartwatch.
Rumors about a Smartwatch from Apple have been circling for months now, and today information was released from a Chinese technology site that says we could finally see the iWatch next October when the iPhone 6 releases. At the moment the hold-up is said to be that Apple has yet to decide on what size screen the iWatch should have.
The report also states that the iWatch will feature a 100mAh battery, which is 1/20 the power of a standard rechargeable AA battery. In comparison, Samsung's Galaxy Gear features a 315mAh battery and has been heavily criticized over its short battery life. Today's report seems to somewhat confirm a report last month from Digitimes who said the iWatch would be released in Q4 of 2014.
Oculus VR has just secured itself $75 million in Series B funding, with a new lead investor: Andreessen Horowitz. Marc Andreessen is now stepping up to the Oculus board, as well as his partner, Chris Dixon.
What coerced them into investing into virtual reality? Well, Oculus has shown off a new Rift headset, which is said to have solved a lot of the problems that the original Rift headset included. What Andreeseen and Dixon saw, is what the world will see at CES 2014 in just a few weeks time: a brand-new Rift headset, which has a higher resolution, lower latency, and takes away the motion blue of the original Developer Kit.
Over the past year, Oculus has seen John Carmack of id Software, Doom and Quake fame join the team as its Chief Technology Officer, and now this additional funding, virtual reality is ready to be propelled into the hands of consumers across the world in 2014.
Palmer Luckey, Oculus VR's founder and VR genius, has said: "[Full positional tracking is] one of the things that's really going to help with the motion sicknes. Right now we're basically faking head translation ... it only really works if you sit in a chair, hold your back completely still, and just move your neck around. You never have a mismatch between what you're doing in real life and what our sensors think you're doing."
One of the more interesting companies working with Oculus VR's Rift headset, is Autodesk. The developer has held its Autodesk University in Vegas, where it showed off some impressive Rift projects to the crowd.
Autodesk noticed one thing about Rift: it "generates buzz, draws crowds around your booth, with people waiting in line just for the chance to look at your product or service. If your business does trade shows, Arch Virtual can definitely help build a Rift app for your next show." Better yet, when you actually want to show someone your product within Rift, it gets even better.
Autodesk teases: "We could even place the viewer on an animated path that shrinks them down to travel directly inside a massive version of your product. The opportunity to tell a story and show off the best features your product or service has to offer is a tremendous, unprecedented opportunity." This is a big selling point of the Rift, is that it creates the world for you - something you simply cannot do on a computer screen, or a TV.
Nick Starr, a network engineer based in Seattle, was enjoying a nice meal in a 24-hour diner in Seattle's Capital Hill neighborhood, when he was asked to remove his Google Glass headset.
Starr demanded to see a written policy that Glass was banned in the diner, but the server held her ground and demanded he remove it. Starr took to Facebook, saying "I would love an explanation, apology, clarification, and if the staff member was in the wrong and lost the owner money last night and also future income as well, that this income be deducted from her pay or her termination."
Starr had stumbled into Lost Lake Cafe, with the owner of the diner being very anti-Glass. Lost Lake's owner, David Meinert, has been in the news before with his anti-Glass stance, banning the wearable device from another place he owns: Seattle's 5 Point Cafe. Meinert said that he had recently told his staff at Lost Lake to ask anyone wearing Glass to remove it.
We know that there's a next-gen Galaxy Gear coming out, but the latest reports from Korea's ETNews, is that it will be accompanied by the Galaxy S5 smartphone.
This would make much more sense, as the Galaxy Gear 2 would compliment the Galaxy S5 smartphone, instead of how the South Korean giant launched its Galaxy Gear smartwatch, and how it only worked with a few Samsung smartphones. One of ETNews' sources said that the Galaxy Gear 2 "is about 15% to 20% thinner" than the original model, and that the new smartwatch will "further enhance convenience and portability".
An update for the Samsung Galaxy Gear was released not too long ago in Europe. The US update for the Galaxy Gear will be arriving this week. The update will bring support for notifications on all applications, such as Facebook, emails, texts, and hangouts.
Other features included in the update are improvements for the lift-to-pause gesture for the clock and they will be adding enhanced Smart Relay functionality which will help perform tasks seamlessly between your phone and the Gear. There is no exact date as to the update release but that it will be sometime this week.
Here I am thinking my Oculus Rift is all I need, but then I see this new Cyberith Virtualizer playing Grand Theft Auto IV in virtual reality, mixed with the Nintendo Wii remote, and I'm getting excited about the true, next generation of gaming.
You need to see the video to understand what is being done, but in a written nutshell, Cybertith's Virtualizer is similar to that of the Virtuix Omni, where it's a treadmill you stand on, and then you walk 'in' the game. Oculus Rift is used for the visual side of things, and the Wii remote from Nintendo is used for the motion controls.
It's not super slick yet, but if this is just what a team of programmers and gamers can do - imagine what we'll have in a few years time. Next-gen consoles with the same controllers we've used - but an evolution of them - is not exciting. Virtual reality, and this type of tech from Cyberith, is incredibly exciting for both the technology and gaming worlds.
Google is sending out more invites, which will see more users walking around with Google Glass Explorer Edition devices, making me more and more jealous as the days go by. Google has invited many more people, with the following message being sent around:
When you asked us how to get Glass on this site, we told you there would be more chances to join the Explorer Program...someday. Well, today's the day.
The sneak peek of the Glass Developer Kit (GDK) is available now, making it possible to build new and innovative kinds of Glassware. We're now inviting you, as a developer, to purchase Glass, become an Explorer, and join us in taking the next step in developing for Glass.
Click on the purchase code below to begin your adventures with Glass.