CES 2018 was a busy show, as usual, and so it's understandable that we let a few announcements slip through the cracks. The items in this wrap-up did not fall into the Android TV, Assistant, or Alexa "categories," so they all got lumped into their own miscellaneous one. Some of these are actually pretty neat, even if they are only mildly interesting.
Google may have just sold Motorola Mobility to Lenovo, but it seems the giant may have kept one of the manufacturer's juiciest pieces (besides patents) to itself.
According to Pocket-lint, Lenovo has confirmed that Google will be keeping Moto's Advanced Technology and Projects group, notably responsible for Project Ara, the modular phone project announced in October in collaboration with Phonebloks, and other experimental ventures.
The team, led by former DARPA Director Regina Dugan is said by the Verge to be heading to Google's Android team, reporting to Sundar Pichai. Readers may remember seeing other Motorola experiments during an interview with Dugan at last May's D11 conference, including electronic authentication tattoos and microchip-toting pills.
Most mobile users these days are happy to get LTE service (and a few of us just wish we could get 3G reliably) but there is already a surprising push towards the next big thing in wireless speeds. Samsung thinks it has the solution, or at least what might become one: expanding existing LTE networks into the super-high 28GHz range, the lower part of what's known as the millimeter wave bands. The company is calling this system 5G, and expects to have it ready for cellular networks in 2020.
Any grade school science student can tell you that higher-frequency radio waves have the capacity for more data, and Samsung's system has been tested with speeds just north of 1Gb per second, about ten times as fast as the best current LTE offerings.
There's been a fundamental problem holding back the development of gadgets for the last decade or so. While processing power, storage capacity, wireless speed, and even display quality are growing at a phenomenal and steady rate, lithium ion batteries really haven't changed at all. The best that manufacturers can do is either create smaller components to make more space for the battery bay or make those components more efficient. LG Chem has created one of the first truly exciting innovations in battery tech in a long time: a Li-ion battery that's flexible enough to twist into almost any shape necessary.
The basic chemical properties of the battery remain untouched.
If there's one downside to the proliferation of touchscreen technology, it's the lack of tactile feedback. Tactus is one of many companies that aims to alleviate this problem. This week, at SID 2012, the company demoed a product that offers disappearing physical touch keys. As seen in the demo video here, these buttons can raise on command and disappear when they're not needed. Which sounds like something out of science fiction.
At the moment, the display can only be configured for preset layouts. Meaning, you configure it for a landscape QWERTY layout, that's all you'll get. No gaming controls, no dialer configurations.
How's this for amazing? You see a piece of sheet music, but you can't read it because you're a plebian, or perhaps you can read it but you want to hear it. SnapNPlay is an app that lets you take a picture of a line of sheet music and then plays back the notes on the page. This is amazing.
The app itself looks a little rough around the edges right now, but the concept is wonderful. The world of the future has already brought us some amazing things, but this app helps highlight something romantic about the nature of creative thought.
From climate change to mobile security, psychology to astronomy, TED talks cover some of the most important, interesting, and amazing topics from leaders of science and technology. TED is, in short, a collection of discussions from the height of human intelligence and thought. Now, more than 1200 TED talks are available on your phone or tablet. This is amazing.
The design of the app is clean and straightforward. It sticks pretty closely to Android's style guide and is therefore very good looking and, more importantly, familiar. The app is functional and gives the user plenty of ways to both discover new talks to listen to as well as find a specific talk.
You may remember way back in 2010 when Samsung first demonstrated a new flexible display technology, wowing onlookers and begging the question "what's the application?"
Well Richard Windsor, a senior technology analyst at Normura Group, has answered that question, indicating that Sammy plans to include foldable displays in future devices. Specifically, Normura's Asian analysts have indicated that the manufacturer is expected to use foldable display technology to entirely eliminate the appearance of side bezels around a smartphone screen. The analysts added the display would be unbreakable, would enhance "the exceptionally thin form factor," and will debut some time in 2012.
Looking to "help you catch up on technology news in minimal time and on your own schedule," Briox introduced Riversip to the Android Market recently. Riversip without a doubt provides a unique take on the "news reader" concept, automatically choosing news sources based on user-chosen topics, and showing only the top headlines, instead of clogging up your screen with every headline available.
Riversip also makes a point of its incredibly easy user experience, promising that "no setup or learning time [is] required." The app also allows users to see what other sources have reported on a given topic, providing a multitude of different angles for each headline.
Yesterday, we saw INQ's Cloud Touch Android handset with deep Facebook integration revealed in all its socially introjected glory in an exclusive TechCrunch demo. Coming to Europe in May of this year and possibly to the U.S. after, the Cloud Touch will be taking aim at text-crazy teenagers and insomniac Facebook users who spend the better halves of their days prowling the depths of the largest social network in the world.
Erick Schonfeld, the reporter who conducted the interview, touched on the music app (which was replaced by Spotify), Facebook, more Facebook, and some more Facebook, but failed to mention the story behind the keyboard in this upcoming social hub of a phone.