January brought us the yearly madness that is CES, but that doesn't mean much in terms of software. The biggest news is probably Microsoft's continued expansion into multi-platform support for its biggest software sellers, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and now even Outlook. Google has been uncharacteristically quiet so far in 2015, aside from updating its current stable of apps.
LIFX is another one of those "smart bulbs," an LED light bulb with some basic electronics and a Wi-Fi connection built in, competing with platforms like HUE from Phillips. Today the manufacturer's official app gets a significant update to version 2.0, focusing on more connectivity options and integration with other software systems. Owners of the pricey bulbs can download the updated app now and connect individual bulbs to their LIFX account.
Is it the age of the smartwatch yet? I don't know, but developers are sure acting like it is. You can hardly turn around without seeing another new watch face or utility for Android Wear. Google still hasn't made it particularly easy to find new Wear apps, but we're keeping track of all the best new stuff, and here it is.
In 2014, the US was shocked to see a flock of sea hawks fly in from the northwest and, despite normally preying on fish, completely devour a team of broncos from the Rockies. This year the birds are still on the offensive, but a group of patriots from New England have banded together to stop them. On Sunday, we will get to see the two sides do battle in a giant bowl.
HP has just announced a pair of new business-oriented Android tablets, the Slate Pro 8 and 12. These devices have high-resolution 4:3 screens and come with a smart digital pen powered by Qualcomm technology. These are niche products, but also rather neat.
Capacitive touchscreens are not ideal tools for 3D modeling. Unless you have an active digitizer and stylus, or superhuman patience, or preferably both, the amazing models on display in the screenshots below will probably be unattainable in the new 123D Sculpt+ app. But that doesn't mean it's not fun to try out a tool that, at least on a technical level, has a lot in common with professional 3D modeling programs.
Do you know what RF pocket forming is? Neither do I! But if I told you it was potentially the way your future gadgets would be able to charge themselves over the air sans any wires or pads or other surfaces, would you be interested? I know I was, and that's what a relatively little-known company called Energous is hoping will get your attention.
Energous, despite not being particularly recognized outside its respective industry, is doing something with charging that seems legitimately revolutionary, and I had a chance to sit down and observe the technology in action.
A messaging service is only useful so long as a certain amount of your contacts use it along with you. So we'll refrain from making jokes at BlackBerry's expense (not a small effort, mind you) or pointing you towards alternatives like Hangouts or WhatsApp. If you use BlackBerry Messenger, and your friends and/or associates do too, pointing out other options isn't going to do much for you. But here's something that will: BBM is getting Android Wear support!
Dedicated technology newshounds have already heard that all of Sony's upcoming BRAVIA televisions will feature Android TV powering their integrated electronics. At CES, the biggest show around in terms of home theater (among other things), they've made good on that promise. Don't believe me? Watch these attractive people over-emote and demonstrate a BRAVIA television's Google Cast feature and ability to play games from the Play Store.
Android TV runs these TVs, including the various inputs and live television, in a manner similar to some Roku-branded HDTVs already on the market.
The United States Patent and Trademark office publishes publicly-available copies of all accepted patents, a great boon to nerds, lawyers, and technology reporters everywhere. The latest batch of design patents includes hundreds of obtuse examples, everything from glasses frames to mops, and among them is this little gem awarded to Samsung, US Design Patent D720,747. It's an interesting look at a style of tablet and cover from Samsung before in exactly this configuration.