Tag Archives | Google

Google’s Android Wear Smartwatch Software: An Interesting, Unfinished Idea

Even if you like this concept, waiting makes sense
Samsung's Gear Live smartwatch

Samsung’s Gear Live smartwatch

Some product categories are easy to review. Smartphones? Until something comes along which redefines them as radically as the first iPhone did in 2007, it’s pretty obvious how to judge them, because there’s a general consensus on what sort of capabilities such a gadget should have.

Not so, however, with smartwatches.

Sure, scads of tiny computers you wear on your wrist have been released over the past couple of years, but the industry is still thrashing out what’s important: what features a smartwatch should have, what technologies it should use, what tradeoffs it should make involving size, weight, and battery life.

No two models reflect the same vision. And if you’re not yet convinced that the world needs smartwatches at all, you’re not alone.

With new smartwatches based on Google’s Android Wear software, however, the vision is pretty clear. Android Wear is all about rolling notifications from smartphone apps and features from Google’s excellent Google Now information service into a form which you can check without fumbling for your smartphone. (Google says that typical Android phone owners check their phones 125 times a day.)

The concept makes sense to me–not as an epoch-shifting gadget in the tradition of the PC, smartphone, and tablet, but at least as a worthy phone accessory for busy geeks. Judging from my time with it so far, though, the reality doesn’t yet live up to its potential.

Continue Reading →


One comment

This New Google Project Proves Humans Are Better at Animation Than Computers Are

Sorry, Android L, Android Wear, and Android Auto: This may be the best thing which got announced at I/O.

I had a good time attending Google I/O, but I somehow missed out on the premiere at the conference of something which means a lot to me: Duet, a new short film by Disney veteran Glen Keane, one of the finest animators of the past forty years.

Fortunately, I just caught up with it on YouTube:

The movie is part of Google’s “Spotlight Stories” project, and will be available in an interactive mobile version for Android phones later this year. But the thing which makes it interesting and moving isn’t the technology: It’s the fact that it consists of a series of drawings by a human being who happens to be a master draftsman, rather than the digital stop-motion puppetry that is computer animation.

Keane may have used more modern tools than his counterparts at Disney did in the 1930s and 1940s, but the basics of his craft haven’t changed at all.

There’s lots of computer animation I like, and some I just love–but the medium has a long way to go until it can match the charm, grace, and emotional depth of something like this. How said it would be if traditional animation–which is clearly an endangered artform–ever goes away altogether.


6 comments

10 Observations About Google’s I/O Keynote

One of many giant Androids towering over the human attendees at Google I/O at San Francisco's Moscone Center

One of many giant Androids towering over the human attendees at Google I/O at San Francisco’s Moscone Center

If you’re looking for a good straightforward recap of the news which Google made during its I/O keynote on Wednesday morning, stop reading this post. Instead, head over to Mat Honan’s fine summary over at Wired. And then, if you’re still interested in the topic, come back here for my initial musings.

Continue Reading →


3 comments

Google Goggles That Really Are Goggles

Seth Weintraub of 9to5Google reports that Google is working on smart eyeglasses with a built-in heads up display that knows where you are and shows relevant Google info:

The heads up display (HUD) is only for one eye and on the side. It is not transparent nor does it have dual 3D configurations, as previously speculated.

One really cool bit: The navigation system currently used is a head tilting-to scroll and click. We are told it is very quick to learn and once the user is adept at navigation, it becomes second nature and almost indistinguishable to outside users.

Google isn’t the only company working on this idea–for instance when I visited NTT Docomo in Tokyo last fall, I tried out a similar prototype which that company had designed in collaboration with Olympus. But I wonder who’ll be the first to ship something that actually works and is useful?


One comment

Which Phone OS Crashes More? It’s Not Android

The argument that iOS is a much more stable operating system than Android has been repeated on the blogs and even in the comment threads of stories about the two operating systems. There’s a problem, though: the data indicates that is untrue.

Mobile app monitoring company Crittercism released data Friday on crash reports from the period December 1 through December 15, and saying iOS has stability issues is putting it nicely. By a 2-to-1 margin, iOS crashes much more frequently than Android, according to Crittercism’s report. The biggest offender is iOS 5.0.1, accounting for 28.64 percent of all crashes.

Continue Reading →


13 comments

The Curse of “Don’t Be Evil”

So it’s official: By merging its various privacy policies into one master policy that permits it to intermingle the things it knows about you, Google has become evil. Or at least that’s the stance of Gizmodo’s Mat Honan, who isn’t alonein his furor:

Honan’s declaration of evil is a riff on Google’s famous unofficial motto, “Don’t be evil,” which was apparently proposed by staffers Paul Buchheit and Amit Patel at a 2001 meeting. Google continues to saying that not being evil is one of its core principles to this day. So the fact that Honan and others are saying that the company has finally crossed an ethical line into evilhood is a unique, sad moment in Google history.

Except…

People have been accusing Google of being evil–or at least wondering whether it has become so–for almost as long as Google has been claiming that it isn’t evil. I can’t lay my hands on any examples from 2001 or 2002, but it became a hot topic in 2003 and has never let up.
Continue Reading →


6 comments

What if Google Helped Eliminate the iPhone 4S and iCloud From the Market?

Wow. FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller, the go-to blogger for analysis of the mobile patent wars, says that Google has given Motorola Mobility, which it’s in the process of acquiring, permission to seek an injunction preventing Apple from selling the iPhone 4S and iCloud. Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson he was willing to go “thermonuclear” on Android; the longer these lawsuits last and the nastier they get, the more the whole thing does start to feel like warfare.


3 comments

A Look at Ice Cream Sandwich for Tablets

Ice Cream Sandwich tablet
I’m still hoping that Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich will help make Android tablets interesting to consumers in a way that Honeycomb-based Android tablets have not been. I haven’t tried one for myself yet. But JR Raphael of Computerworld has an Asus Transformer Prime with ICS–and he’s put together a nice walkthrough of the interface.


4 comments

Life is Not a Picnik: Google Closes Its Cool Photo-Editing Service

Okay, it looks like Google really is serious about its oft-stated plans to focus on fewer services and do them better. (Also known as “more wood behind fewer arrows.”) It’s announced that it’s shuttering even more offerings, and one of them is Picnik, the excellent online photo editor which it bought in 2010.

The closure isn’t abrupt or catastrophic. Google is giving Picnik users plenty of warning–the service isn’t going away until April 19th–and they’ll be able to download their photos. But unlike some of Google’s shutdowns, closing Picnik isn’t a tacit acknowledgment that a service never found an audience. (I never heard of Google’s Gmail Message Continuity and Social Graph API until the company said they were going away.) Picnik is popular, and it’s good, and the world will be a sadder place place without it–at least for folks who already know and love it.

Continue Reading →


116 comments