Google updates Glass, ditches video calls, but improves photo browsing

Anthony Garreffa | Wearable Computing & Fashion | Apr 14, 2014 9:30 PM CDT

Google is pushing out an update to Glass, which will see some improvements, and the removal of the function to video call people. Google removed the video call function from Glass as the feature didn't meet Google's "high standards".

The search giant says that around 10% of Glass users were using the video call function, so in light of this, the Glass team made "the hard decision to remove video calls from Glass until the experience is better". Onto the updates, where Glass will not bundle photos together - this is really important, as your timeline can be completely cluttered with photos.

The latest update to Glass will bundle all of your photos, videos and vignettes into a single bundle for each day. For someone like me who takes lots of photos and videos per day, my timeline is constantly cluttered - news to my wearable ears!

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Is 4K not enough for you? How about 8K? Detail so high you can feel it

Anthony Garreffa | Displays & Projectors | Apr 14, 2014 8:34 PM CDT

During the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas just recently, Japan's public broadcasting organization, NHK, showed off an 8K test. This test, according to Mashable, was "so dense with detail that the human eye will not detect additional resolution".

NHK was showing off some footage that included a Japanese fireworks display, a short film by a performing arts troupe, a fashion show, and footage from a soccer game between Brazil and Spain. Mashable editor Josh Dickey said that this footage looked "real" and that it was "spectacular". Dickey talked more about the 8K footage: "The clarity and depth of field truly is uncanny, yet the picture had none of the harsh edges, strange light and "video" vibe of other super-HD displays and high frame-rate demos I've seen. It's somehow cinematic; yet you can focus in on any face in a large crowd and make out every feature at varying distances. It really is like being there".

He continued: "3D is already wobbling off to international markets, and if something like 8K ever catches on here, it won't help it. During the fireworks display footage, birds that fly into the shot had me thinking some sparrows had gotten into the place. Stereovision would be overkill". When will 8K penetrate more into the market? Well, the displays and TVs have no current ETA as we need broadcasts and movies to catch up.

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Google acquires drone company, Titan Aerospace

Charles Gantt | Drones | Apr 14, 2014 6:45 PM CDT

For weeks now it has appeared that Facebook would be swooping in and buying up drone manufacturer, Titan Aerospace, but today Google has apparently beaten Facebook to the punch and picked up the company itself. While no price has been mentioned on how much the deal cost Google, it does mark the third company of this type that the Mountain View-based company has added to its stables.

"Titan Aerospace and Google share a profound optimism about the potential for technology to improve the world. It's still early days, but atmospheric satellites could help bring internet access to millions of people, and help solve other problems, including disaster relief and environmental damage like deforestation," said a Google spokesperson.

Google says that it will utilize technology from Titan Aerospace, its Project Loon, and Makani Airborne, a wind turbine company it acquired last year, to work on a solution that will bring unbiased, and unfiltered internet to developing and war-torn countries around the world. "Titan Aerospace and Google share a profound optimism about the potential for technology to improve the world," Google said. "It's still early days, but atmospheric satellites could help bring internet access to millions of people, and help solve other problems, including disaster relief and environmental damage like deforestation."

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Twopcharts says 44% of all Twitter accounts were never used

Shane McGlaun | Internet & Websites | Apr 14, 2014 1:23 PM CDT

Some new stats have been publishes by a third party company called Twopcharts looking at Twitter. At last count, Twitter has about 974 million users, but it's less clear how many of those accounts are still in use. Twopcharts has offered up some numbers that claim twitter is much less active than the 974 million user number might suggest.

The stats that Twopcharts had gathered claim that 44% of those Twitter accounts have never made a single tweet. That means that 44% of Twitter's accounts have never been used. The company goes on to claim that only 126 million of Twitter accounts have sent a tweet in the past 30 days.

Twitter is tight lipped about its stats for the most part and doesn't like to talk about user retention. What Twitter has said in the past is that it has 241 million average monthly users as of December 31 2013. Twopcharts also claims that 391 million Twitter accounts have 0 followers and about 232 million haven't followed a single Twitter user themselves.

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HTC One M8 with plastic case rumored for launch next month

Shane McGlaun | Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Apr 14, 2014 11:48 AM CDT

The HTC One M8 has been around for a while now and has proven to be one of the more popular smartphones HTC has launched in recent memory. The device launched late last month and prices have started to come down a bit on the smartphone. Amazon started offering a special with a new contract last week that allowed buyers to get the M8 for $150.

For those who don't want a contract, buying a phone outright and unlocked is the way to go. The M8 is quite expensive if you go that route costing around $680 unlocked. That is a lot of money for a smartphone no matter how you cut it.

A new rumor making the rounds suggests that next month a new version of the One M8 will hit the market with a key change to significantly reduce the cost. The change is said to be eliminating the aluminum case of the current version in favor of a plastic case.

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Sprint WeGo lets parents know where kids are and stay in contact

Shane McGlaun | Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Apr 14, 2014 10:46 AM CDT

Part of having kids is letting them become independent enough to go palces on their own. That is tough for a parent because they need to know where kids are at all times for safety reasons. Sprint has announced a new device that is specifically made to let parents keep up with kids and help kids feel safe.

The device is called the Sprint WeGo and it is a small handheld mobile phone that supports texting and talk. WeGo offers kids limited SMS texting options to keep them from talking to people the parent doesn't know without permission. The device will alert parents via text or email if the phone exceeds a pre-set speed, if the panic alarm is pulled, or when SMS messages are received.

WeGo also has on demand GPS functions that let the parent track their child on a map at anytime from a PC, Android device, or iOS device. Scheduled find services keep an eye on the kids to make sure they are where they are supposed to be at a specific time. The mobile device is shatterproof and can survive drops up to 12-feet high and is water and dust resistant too. WeGo can be purchases for 24 monthly payments of $9.99 and has 1000 talk minutes and 1000 text messages.

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The Netherlands is now home to glow-in-the-dark roads

Anthony Garreffa | Business, Financial & Legal | Apr 14, 2014 5:35 AM CDT

The Netherlands is testing out a new technology on a 500m, or 0.3 miles, stretch of highway - using light-absorbing glow-in-the-dark road markings. These markings have replaced streetlights on the stretch of highway.

Rewinding back to 2012, Studio Roosegaarde proposed the design, and after much jumping through the usual government hoops, the finished product is shaping up incredibly well. The studios founder and lead designer, Daan Roosegaarde, said: "One day I was sitting in my car in the Netherlands, and I was amazed by these roads we spend millions on but no one seems to care what they look like and how they behave. I started imagining this Route 66 of the future where technology jumps out of the computer screen and becomes part of us".

The future of this new roll out will include weather markings, where snowdrops would appear when the temperature would hit a certain level. The glow-in-the-dark stretch of highway at the moment uses a photo-luminescent powder that is integrated into the road paint, something that was developed in conjunction with Heijmans, a road construction company.

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Apple to release an all-new design iPhone this year, 5.5-inch model

We've heard so many rumors that Apple would release a new iPhone this year, while other rumors point to two new iPhones to be released from the company. Well, now we have KGI Securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo predicting that the company will release two 'all-new design' iPhones, coming in 4.7- and 5.5-inch variants.

The 4.7-inch iPhone would be released sometime in Q3, where we should see it unveiled toward the end of September - but then there's the case of the second iPhone. This iPhone would be much bigger, sitting at 5.5 inches, and would be released toward the end of this year. There's not much known about this 'all-new design', but I'm expecting a big departure from what we're used to from the iPhone - and it's about damn time.

Considering we already had a "newly designed" from the ground up with the iPhone 5, what was all of that about when Apple did that? After five years of no changes to the iPhone, we had a big change. But now that Samsung has become an almost unstoppable threat for the company, Apple has been forced to go back to the drawing board it seems. Gone are the days of marketing videos pushing that you can use the iPhone with just one hand, and that any other phone that makes you do this is inferior.

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Google sees Android KitKat adoption slower than Jelly Bean

Anthony Garreffa | Software & Apps | Apr 14, 2014 1:29 AM CDT

Google isn't seeing massive adoption rates no Android 4.4 KitKat, even though the updated mobile OS is capable of working on more devices than the OS it succeeded on. KitKat's adoption rate is sitting at a lower point than Jelly Bean was when it first launched.

Chitika's number crunching abilities see that Android 4.4 KitKat is on around 10% of devices, six months after it was launched. After six months of Jelly Bean being available, it was on 14% of devices. Chitika explains: "[L]ooking beyond the device type breakdown, on a wider scale, KitKat has not progressed quite as quickly as Jelly Bean in North America from an adoption perspective. We previously observed Jelly Bean users generating 13.6% of North American Android Web traffic approximately 24 weeks following its debut on the Nexus 7. This overall number is 10.1% for KitKat as of this study, close to 22 weeks following its release on the Nexus 5".

Chitika has analyzed just North American numbers here, with its ad impressions blasting onto tens of millions of US and Canadian Android-based devices between March 31, and April 6, 2014. When it comes to the US, around 61.8% of devices are running a version of Jelly Bean. 20.3% of traffic is coming from Gingerbread-based devices, while Ice Cream Sandwich sits on 21.3% devices.

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Samsung's region locking on the Galaxy S5 is harsh

Samsung may have just launched its new Galaxy S5 in over 125 countries around the world, but if you want to use a Galaxy S5 from one country in another - region locking has been stamped into the new flagship smartphone.

Samsung now requires a user to make a five-minute phone call on the Galaxy S5 with a local SIM card before the device can be used with SIM cards from other regions. A warning message on the European version of the Galaxy S5 reads: "This product should be activated with a SIM card issued from a mobile operator within Europe. (as defined EU/EEA, Switzerland and the following Non-EEA countries Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.M), Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Serbia and Vatican City.)"

The South Korean electronics giant adds: "To use SIM cards from other regions, a cumulative call over five minutes must first be made with the SIM card from European operators". This isn't something that Samsung is doing to hurt its consumers, but it is trying to stop "grey" imports of its products, which will stop it from bleeding unnecessary lost profits around the world.

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