Category Archives: Apps
Google is laying the groundwork for a version of Android that would be built directly into cars, sources said, allowing drivers to enjoy all the benefits of the internet without even plugging in their smartphones.
The move is a major step up from Google’s current Android Auto software, which comes with the latest version of its smartphone operating system and requires a phone to be plugged into a compatible car with a built-in screen to access streaming music, maps and other apps.
Google, however, has never provided details or a timeframe for its long-term plan to put Android Auto directly into cars. The company now plans to do so when it rolls out the next version of its operating system, dubbed Android M, expected in a year or so, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
The sources declined to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the plans publicly.
“It provides a much stronger foothold for Google to really be part of the vehicle rather than being an add-on,” said Thilo Koslowski, vice president and Automotive Practice Leader of industry research firm Gartner, who noted that he was unaware of Google’s latest plans in this area.
If successful, Android would become the standard system powering a car’s entertainment and navigation features, solidifying Google’s position in a new market where it is competing with arch-rival Apple Inc. Google could also potentially access the valuable trove of data collected by a vehicle.
Direct integration into cars ensures that drivers will use Google’s services every time they turn on the ignition, without having to plug in the phone. It could allow Google to make more use of a car’s camera, sensors, fuel gauge, and Internet connections that come with some newer car models.
Analysts said Google’s plan could face various technical and business challenges, including convincing automakers to integrate its services so tightly into their vehicles.
Google declined to comment.
Technology companies are racing to design appliances, wristwatches and other gadgets that connect to the Internet. Automobiles are a particularly attractive prospect because Americans spend nearly 50 minutes per day on average on their commute, according to US Census data.
Apple unveiled its CarPlay software in March and Google has signed on dozens of companies, including Hyundai, General Motors Co and Nissan Motor Co, for its Open Automotive Alliance and its Android Auto product.
Android Auto and CarPlay both currently “project” their smartphone apps onto the car’s screen. Many of the first compatible cars with this smartphone plug-in functionality are expected to be on display at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month and to go on sale in 2015.
By building Android into a car, Google’s services would not be at risk of switching off when a smartphone battery runs out of power, for example.
“With embedded it’s always on, always there,” said one of the sources, referring to the built-in version of Android Auto. “You don’t have to depend on your phone being there and on.”
Google’s software could potentially connect to other car components, allowing, for example, a built-in navigation system like Google Maps to detect when fuel is low and provide directions to the nearest gas stations.
By tapping into the car’s components, Google could also gain valuable information to feed its data-hungry advertising business model. “You can get access to GPS location, where you stop, where you travel everyday, your speed, your fuel level, where you stop for gas,” one of the sources said.
But the source noted that Android would need major improvements in performance and stability for carmakers to adopt it. In particular, Android Auto would need to power-up instantly when the driver turns the car on, instead of having to wait more than 30 seconds, as happens with many smartphones.
Automakers might also be wary of giving Google access to in-car components that could raise safety and liability concerns, and be reluctant to give Google such a prime spot in their vehicles.
“Automakers want to keep their brand appeal and keep their differentiation,” said Mark Boyadjis, an analyst with industry research firm IHS Automotive. “Automakers don’t want to have a state of the industry where you get in any vehicle and it’s just the same experience wherever you go.”
A new report indicates that Google is working on a new camera API, which will enhance the camera experience on an Android smartphone.
Ars Technica in a report has published some changes expected in the new API, including support for RAW image output. As per the report, the RAW images are modestly compressed and processed when compared to a JPEG format, which is a default format for clicked images on Android smartphones. The RAW images would increase the amount of correction possible, and programs like Photoshop can do much more with a RAW file than a JPEG. It’s worth pointing out that Nokia has already introduced the RAW image output support in the flagship Windows Phone 8 phablet, Lumia 1520.
Further, the report reveals a month old batch of code that showed the new camera API was in the works. The code was first spotted by app developer Josh Brown. The code said, “DO NOT MERGE: Hide new camera API. Not yet ready.”
In addition, the alleged new camera API is rumoured to bring face-detection feature which would include bounding boxes around faces and centre coordinates, while Android’s OEM partners like Samsung, Sony and HTC have already introduced the face-detection feature in their top-end smartphones. Another expected addition is a revamped burst mode and a major overhaul to the image quality. The report includes documentation with phrases like substantially improved capabilities and fine-grain control, suggesting that Google is working closely on image details.
The leaked APIs also suggested that Google might bring removable camera support, much like Sony’s Cyber-shot DSC-QX100 and DSC-QX10 lens cameras, to Android smartphones. The report notes the API for removable camera, saying: “The camera device is removable and has been disconnected from the Android device, or the camera service has shut down the connection due to a higher-priority access request for the camera device.” The report does not reveal any details about the release of the new API for Android.
Google has named the latest version of its Android mobile operating system after the KitKat chocolate bar.
The company has a history of naming software after confectionery and desserts – previous versions include Ice Cream Sandwich, Gingerbread and Jelly Bean.
Android software is the world’s biggest mobile operating system, driving more than a billion tablets and smartphones, according to Google.
The news is a surprise to some technology watchers as the company had previously indicated that version 4.4 – expected in October – would go by the generic name Key Lime Pie.
After months of teasing, the wait is over: Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, who brought us the video-sharing site YouTube, are taking the wraps off their newest project, a video creation app called MixBit.
Versions for Apple mobile devices and the Web will be going live on Thursday, and an Android version is due in several weeks.
On the surface, MixBit resembles two other leading video apps, Twitter’s Vine and Facebook’s Instagram. As with those apps, users press and hold the screen of their smartphone to record video. Instagram users can capture up to 15 seconds of video, a bit longer than Vine’s six-second maximum. MixBit allows 16 seconds. Read the rest of this entry
If you’ve enabled Google Chrome’s ‘Offer to save passwords I enter on the web’ feature and have saved some or all of your passwords through it, you should remember to sign-out of your Google account in Chrome, especially if you use the browser on a shared computer.
Google’s popular Web browser allows you to save your passwords and manage them through a menu in the browser’s Settings page. When you click on ‘Manage saved passwords’ you get a list of your Saved passwords as well as a list of websites where you have instructed the browser to ‘never save’. Interestingly, when you click on one of your saved passwords, Google gives you the option to see the password in plain text by clicking on the ‘Show’ button which is placed along with the listing. It doesn’t ask for a confirmation or any additional verification by, say, prompting for your Google account’s password. Read the rest of this entry
The Facebook news feed is getting slightly less mysterious — and perhaps more relevant, too.
In a blog post on Tuesday, the company explained some of the mysteries of the news feed, which is the flow of status updates and other posts on a user’s home page or screen.
On any given visit to Facebook, the average user could potentially see about 1,500 items, the company said, from wedding photos posted by a close friend to a mundane notice that an acquaintance is now friends with someone else. Read the rest of this entry
In Hollywood, there are umbrella holders. Outside corner offices, there are people who know exactly how much cream to pour in the boss’s coffee. And then there is Silicon Valley, where mind-reading personal assistants come in the form of a cellphone app.
A range of start-ups and big companies like Google are working on what is known as predictive search — new tools that act as robotic personal assistants, anticipating what you need before you ask for it. Glance at your phone in the morning, for instance, and see an alert that you need to leave early for your next meeting because of traffic, even though you never told your phone you had a meeting, or where it was. Read the rest of this entry