No steering wheel, no problem
Google has had a fairly long history of exploring self driving cars, most famously retrofitting some run of the mill Toyota Prius and Lexus vehicles with a complicated camera and sensor setup for prototyping purposes. Now Google is going ahead with their plans, as Sergey Brin formally announced at the Code Conference alongside interviewers Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. The biggest news here goes far beyond that, however, as Google has officially revealed the world’s completely self-driving car – one with nary a steering wheel in sight.
The vehicle, which has been totally designed by Google engineers, is a compact car that highly resembles a Smart car that one would see driving through the streets today. The car is a two seater with no steering wheel, no accelerator, no brake, no mirrors, no glove compartment, and – at the moment – not even a sound system – because hey, there’s no room for the radio in the future.
Google says that the car is still very much in prototyping stage, making it unlikely that we’ll ever see the above vehicle in any sort of retail capacity. Instead, Google’s car is currently designed to take their development of self driving vehicles just one step forward in hopes that, one day, all cars will be self driving – even if they don’t look anything like what Google has in mind. Check out a video of the car in action after the break.
Source: Ars Technica
Stream old games on your new console
Good news – if you’re one of the (many) people irked that the PlayStation 4 launched without any sort of backwards compatibility, you’ll soon be able to sleep just a little more soundly. According to Sony itself via the PlayStation Blog, the company is preparing to launch their PlayStation Now service, which brings a wide variety of the “PlayStation Library of Games” to supported platforms. That means that, in essence, you’ll be able to play non-PlayStation 4 games on your PlayStation 4 – effectively enabled a sort of pseudo backwards compatibility. Cool right?
Since the PlayStation 4 is wildly different than previous PlayStation platforms internally speaking, the magic is done via the cloud – all games are processed and streamed to the console, so it doesn’t matter what the PlayStation 4’s hardware is since its not doing any of the heavy lifting. This does mean, however, that since games are streamed to the platform rather than executed natively, you’ll see some latency and quality degradation if your connection were to ever slow down. Still, a small price to pay for a wider library of games to enjoy, right?
PlayStation Now for PS4 is launching as a beta, with an invitation required to install the necessary software. Sony says they’ll begin inviting the first batch of testers soon, so keep an eye on your inbox for a chance to have at it.
Source: PlayStation Blog
Cool, cheap boxes
Lenovo has made their new lineup of Chromebook notebooks official, the N20 Chromebook and the N20p Chromebook. Make no mistake – these are some pretty nice machines running Intel hardware, so no putting up with the occasional frustration of owning an ARM machine with these guys. The N20 Chromebook features a traditional notebook design while the N20p has what Lenovo is calling a “multimode” design that, at the end of the day, brings the Lenovo Yoga’s tricks over to a Chromebook, complete with a capacitive touchscreen.
Inside, both the N20 and the N20p feature Intel Atom processors, 11.6-inch displays with 1366 x 768-pixel resolution, up to 4GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage (flash storage, of course), 802.11 a/c Wi-Fi, HDMI-out, and all the other goodies you’d expect from a low-end notebook like these. Of course, being Chromebooks, these things aren’t running Windows – they’re running Google’s Chrome OS, so you’re pretty much stuck with using whatever applications Google approves (usually pretty “meh” web apps), like Google Drive and, obviously, the Chrome web browser.
The Lenovo N20 Chromebook starts at $269 while the extra flexible N20p Chromebook starts at $329. Availability comes sometime in August, so you’ve got some time to add pennies to your piggy bank if you’re interested.
Look, it is shiny and it is new
I know, I know – you’ve been hoping for Google to tackle reworking favoriting (or bookmarking, if you’re that type of guy) since they took email by the horns with Gmail. You’re finally getting your wish, technology wizards – a new leak has revealed a brand new global bookmarking service called “Google Stars” that will allow you to bookmark your favorite sites to the cloud, and then manage them through folders and even search through their content from anywhere right from Google’s handy “Stars” UI.
There’s no real word on when Stars is coming or how exactly it works just yet, but the outside world has gotten its hands on a splash screen for the new Google Stars beta tool, which does give some new details – seen above. Google Stars will presumably be integrated in future versions of Google Chrome and potentially even Android, so this is something to keep an eye on.
Source: Florian Kiersch (via Google+)
Us in America have been enjoying (or not enjoying, for those who don’t use the service, I guess) all the benefits that Google Play Music has to offer for quite some time now, but Google has given little love to America’s brother up North. That changes today as Google has officially announced that Google Play Music has finally arrived to Canada starting today.
The service, which allows you to endlessly stream Google’s vast library of music with no advertisements and no hassles, is available now for $10 CAD a month. That’s roughly on par with alternative services that provide similar benefits, such as Spotify – but Google Play Music integrates seamlessly with your Android phone making this a potentially better deal for those of you who choose to stay within Google’s vast ecosystem.
Sound good? Hit up the source link to get started.
Rather serious camera issues
First, we learned that the Galaxy S5 can be spoofed by fake fingerprints and now we have news that the impressive 16-megapixel sensor is having some rather serious issues.
The issue, which seems to only be affecting Verizon devices, causes units to pop up with a random “Camera Error” with seemingly no reason behind the issue. Once this error is received, the camera sensor becomes permanently disabled with none of the usual software tricks working. The only way to fix the problem is to get the device swapped under warranty, which Samsung will do if you call a number or if you go to a carrier.
According to The Verge, the issue isn’t too big yet but it’s still something to be aware of.
Source: The Verge
6 cameras ought to be enough for that perfect selfie
There have been some rumors saying that Amazon is working on their own phone. It looks like the rumors were right because what you see above is reportedly a prototype of Amazon’s upcoming and unannounced phone.
As is the case with many upcoming phones, this prototype is in a decoy shell so that we can’t see what the hardware underneath looks like. A similar method was used by Apple back during the infamous Gizmodo iPhone 4 leak. Nonetheless, this is what is supposed to be Amazon’s phone as it stands right now.
According to BGR, this device will run on a Qualcomm Snapdragon and 2GB of RAM and come with Amazon’s own fork of Android similar to what they use on the Kindle. The screen is a 4.7″ 720p display which is a bit low-resolution in this world today. Finally, as far as specs are concerned, this phone comes with no less than six cameras.
There’s a 13-megapixel camera on the back and a “standard front-facing” camera on the front for your selfies but it also comes with four additional cameras in the front of the device. These four extra cameras are special infrared cameras which are used to track the user’s face. These special cameras are being used to run a glasses-free 3D display similar to that of the Nintendo 3DS.
With all that power under the hood, you’d expect it to have a pricey tag on the outside and you’re probably right: although we’re still a ways away from the release date, BGR reports that the device seen here is the high-end device with an as of yet unseen low-end device coming later.
Putting it up for sale
Pumped to get your hands on a Google Glass handset, but haven’t had much luck getting your name in as a registered Google Glass Explorer for a prototype unit? Well, April 15th will be a very important day for you then – starting at 9 AM EST (6 AM PST) on the 15th, Google will offer their prototype units up for sale to the general public “until supplies last” for its regular price of $1,500.
Of course, Google won’t have an unlimited stock pile here, so if you’ll want one you’ll probably have to set an alarm and get in early to really have a chance. But now you, dear reader, are informed – and because you’re informed, you can get Glass. Or save the $1,500 and don’t. Your choice.
Source: Google (Google+)
Conference still slated for June 25th
Google has today announced that registration for its annual I/O Developer Conference has been pushed back a week, with sign ups now slated to begin April 15th. Google fans will be happy to know that the conference itself will remain scheduled at June 25th, so no delay there.
Google is expected to be preparing to launch a new version of Android for smartphones, as well as share more information on Android Wear for smartwatches as well as the company’s upcoming plans for the TV with a new product known as Android TV.
Google I/O regularly sees a huge rush of requests for attendance, so be sure to get in early on April 15th if you’re interested in having a place there. unfortunately (or fortunately?) for you, Google isn’t running any sort of lottery system here, so if you snooze you lose.
A big win for Google
Google has just announced on the official Google Glass Google+ profile some huge news – namely, a big partnership with Luxottica, the company behind the insanely popular Ray-Ban brand of glasses frames. According to the announcement, Luxottica will be involved with the initiative to “design, develop, and distribute” frames under the Ray-Ban and Oakley brands that are compatible with Google Glass.
Google announced a new lineup of glasses frames with Glass support not too terribly long ago, but Luxottica and Ray-Ban lend a name perhaps large enough to really affect customer approval of Glass. Google Glass has been in the headlines a bit more than usual as of late, likely due to both the increasing popularity of wearable technology as well as the introduction of Google’s Android Wear smartwatch platform.
Source: Google Glass (via Google+)
It could make sense
Here’s one out of left field – according to a new report by Billboard, Apple may considering bringing the iTunes Store to the chief competitor of the company’s iPhone and iPad, Google’s Android platform. Android is, of course, the platform used on some of the world’s most popular and best selling smartphone and tablet lineups, including the Samsung Galaxy and the HTC One.
iTunes Store on Android would likely be very much like what Apple did all the way back in 2003 when the company brought iTunes onto Windows. The move allowed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of users to purchase music (and later movies, television shows, books, and podcasts) legally without the need to switch to an Apple device. Likewise, iTunes Store on Android move would allow Android to purchase and store media directly on the smartphone or tablet they likely already have without the need to switch to an iPhone or an iPad.
Steve Jobs was infamously quoted in 2011 saying that Apple would “never” bring iTunes to Android. That said, Steve Jobs also said the company would never release an iPod that could plat videos, a tablet computer, and then later a small form factor tablet – all of which the company went on to do.
And discounts on their new wearables
If you’re one of the Android crowd, you’ll have been waiting for this announcement on when you can order the Samsung Galaxy S5. Tomorrow, if you want to pre-order yours and your carrier is AT&T, you’ll be able to do so as they’re the first to accept pre-orders for the device. AT&T’s two-year contract price is $200 or if that isn’t your thing, $650 off-contract.
For that money, you can get a black or white device, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, a 2.5GHz quad-core processor and Android 4.4 which is all good for the definitive, top-of-the-line Android smartphone. If you’re willing to spend a little more money, you can also get a discount on either of Samsung’s latest smartwatches.
Also beginning tomorrow and lasting until June 5th or while supplies last, if you buy a Galaxy S5 through AT&T they’ll give you $50 off a Gear 2 or Gear 2 Neo smartwatch. All of this can be yours if you pre-order through AT&T tomorrow, although I wouldn’t be surprised if the other carriers pitch similar offers when they announce the S5. Pre-orders placed through AT&T will ship in “early April”.