Remember Project Ara? We haven't heard much about it since Motorola revealed its existence back in October, exciting us with the real possibility that one day we will be able to effectively build and customize phones to suit our tastes. As it turns out, the Advanced Technology and Projects team (now owned by Google) is still working full-steam ahead. Today they've announced the first Ara Developers' Conference, which will take place online from April 15 - 16th.
It's finally happening. After months of leaks and speculation, the Google Now Launcher (previously known informally at the Google Experience Launcher) has been dropped into the Play Store. This is essentially just an updated stub app that will enable the home screen functionality in the Google search app on most Android devices. However, this isn't a universal release.
The first official version of the Google Now Launcher is only installable on the Nexus and Google Play Edition devices running KitKat.
A few days ago, we published a story about Google's possibly upcoming smartwatch. Current rumors suggest that the watch may be ready in time for Google I/O, and that it might be made by LG. We also mentioned that we had heard of a Motorola prototype previously - a prototype that may have been scrapped in favor of a new design from the manufacturer who made the Nexus 4 and 5.
Love it or hate it, the smartwatch is a category that seemingly every manufacturer still wants to conquer. No matter how many devices debut, and no matter how they perform, it seems there are those companies who still think that they have the right solution. According to TechCrunch, @evleaks, and others, Google is one such company, and plans to debut its own smartwatch before or during this year's Google I/O conference.
When it comes right down to it, there’s a pretty short list of things everybody simply expects a cell phone to be able to do well: making and receiving calls and text messages. We must be able to trust that our phones aren’t failing at the most basic types of communication. Unfortunately, some people have found that the Nexus 5 can’t always be trusted to let them know when somebody is calling or texting them.
Google's newly announced Project Tango phone is packed full of sensors to give it a three dimensional understanding of its surroundings. Just how good is it at creating a 3D map? Well, now there's a video showing off what the prototype can do.
The test video comes courtesy of computer vision firm Matterport, which is one of the few companies Google chose to give an early prototype to. In the video you can see the phone being swept around the room, and it's not some perfectly designed test space – there's a bunch of junk all over the place.
Google has just pulled the curtain off Project Tango, the latest innovation to come to us from its Advanced Technology and Projects hardware group (the folks also involved with Project Ara). This device is capable of tracking its movement within an area while creating a 3D map of the environment at the same time. It could be immensely useful for indoor navigation or the creation of highly immersive video games.
Facebook's $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp was certainly yesterday's biggest story when it came to web and social news. But according to Amir Efrati of The Information, there's an interesting backstory that didn't make it into the financial pages. He reports that six months ago, Google offered to pay WhatsApp to notify the larger company if they received an acquisition offer from anyone else. While an exact amount hasn't been disclosed, the deal was reportedly worth "millions of dollars."
The Information's anonymous sources say that WhatsApp declined the offer - surely a hard pill to swallow for a startup company, even one with the fantastic number of users that WhatsApp boasts.
Chromecast not working? Now you can complain in an official place on the web – a Googler might even see and help you out. The official Chromecast product forums are up and running with plenty of general information and threads with specific questions.