Sony began tinkering with a cleaner build of Android 5.1 earlier this year with the help of a few hundred beta testers in Sweden. The so-called Sony Concept for Android program is moving forward today with an expansion to more markets and a bump up to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Slots are limited (increased from last time), and it's not available in all regions. For once, it's the US that's getting left out.
A couple of years ago, I couldn't talk to anyone about smartphones for two minutes without them shouting in ecstatic delirium, "Have you seen the new iPhone 5?" Of course, they were talking about this concept video, which everyone in their right mind knew was a "concept" for no less obvious reason than the fact that it was titled as such and created by an animation studio. Except hundreds of people around me still believed it was the real deal. Before I digress any further into the naiveté of common mortals when it comes to technology, I'll remind you of the one feature in that video everyone thought was super cool and that has made it onto countless other concept videos for various companies and products: the projected keyboard.
Does your new phone feel hot? I mean really, really hot, perhaps because it uses a mobile processor that's running much hotter than some of its contemporaries? Maybe it could use an infusion of conceptual tech from Fujitsu. The manufacturer and OEM supplier is currently showing off its "thin cooling device for compact electronics" (catchy!), a liquid cooling solution designed for high-performance mobile chipsets. That's not astounding in and of itself; what is impressive is that they've made it only one millimeter thin.
Liquid cooling for electronics is nothing new - high-end gaming and workstation PCs have been using custom liquid cooling setups for years.
Google Glass still isn't lighting up the world almost two years after release, but it looks like at least one major electronics corporation has taken notice. Sony's primary production division announced its new Single-Lens Display Module today. It's a wearable device that's remarkably similar to Glass in basic structure, with the major difference being that it can be attached to any normal pair of glasses or sunglasses.
Don't pull out your wallet just yet. Sony is really only promoting the module at this point - it's not a finished consumer product. Sony is a huge OEM parts provider, after all, so this gadget is more of a proof-of-concept for Sony's corporate customers.
Google's Finance app is in desperate need of attention. If you haven't checked in on it lately, it's still stuck with Gingerbread design. No seriously, go look. Tiny header bars, legacy menus, odd layouts, and assets that look tiny or pixelated (or both) on today's high resolution devices.
Just for fun, I decided to take a look at the app and see if I could give it a fresh coat of paint, inspired by material design. It's worth noting that, when the rest of Google's product icons were updated in its web launcher, Finance received a new icon too (the basis for the thumbnail of this post), so it's possible that Google really is working on a new design, but that's okay - I think exploring some ideas early is still worth while.
At this point, we've got some really amazing technology in our smartphones, and not just on the inside. Corning's continued work on their Gorilla Glass has made phone screens amazingly resistant to scratches, and as soon as someone manages to figure out how to make synthetic sapphire faster and cheaper, they'll be even better. But no matter how tough your screen is, it's still glass, and dropping it on the pavement is an almost inevitable recipe for a broken screen. (Just ask David Ruddock.)
Indium tin oxide (ITO) layers in current touchscreens. Source: Digi-Key
Quick reminder: the modular smartphone is a real thing that's really happening. Motorola blew our minds with the announcement of a plan to create modular phones not totally unlike the Phonebloks concept, and now the manufacturer is one step closer to making some real hardware. 3D Systems, makers of the Cube 3D printer and similar equipment, is Motorola's first partner on the Project Ara.
So what does that mean? Motorola needs some way of adding flexibility to a traditionally rigid manufacturing process, and 3D printing would seem to be a natural solution. According to the press release, 3D Systems will be Moto's "exclusive fulfillment partner" for both Ara enclosures/frames and the individual modules that make up the replaceable hardware components, assuming there are no major issues with the development phase of the project.
It's no secret that I enjoy Autodesk mobile apps. From Pixlr Express to Sketchbook to AutoCAD 360, it's hard to find an instance when the company has produced a sub-par piece of mobile software.
Continuing that trend, Autodesk released FormIt to the Play Store today, two months after teasing the app's progress on its blog. The former iOS exclusive is meant to help users quickly create and manipulate building forms based on quick ideas or inspiration while on the go.
In this pursuit, the app allows users to quickly build their ideas using a gallery of pre-determined shapes, or by extruding their own shapes from lines.
Your phone is old and you need a new one. You'd be happy as a clam if you could upgrade only one part, but to get the RAM/storage/processor you want, you have to pay for everything. This is why people still build desktop PCs. A concept called Phonebloks takes that modular PC goodness and applies it to smartphones. It's an interesting idea that will probably never, ever come to fruition.
Here's the gist: you buy a phone base that includes the motherboard and enough connective hardware to string all the parts together on one side and mount the screen on the other.
Voice control? That's so 2010. The future of mobile computing is... well, I have no idea what it is, but Danish startup company The Eye Tribe would like you to think that it's eye tracking. And not the simple, on-off tracking demonstrated in the latest versions of Samsung's TouchWiz - their hardware can track eye movements with enough precision to replicate a finger tap or mouse cursor. Check out the video below:
Want the money shot? Skip to 3:00.
That guy is slicing fruit in Fruit Ninja with his eyes. He's like some incredible wizard who really hates oranges. The applications for browsing the web and other standard apps seems a little forced, but the idea of unlocking your screen without touching it makes at least as much sense as Google's own facial recognition solution.