Welcome back to another week of the Android Police Podcast. To catch us live on Hangouts On Air every Thursday at 5:30PM PST (subject to change as per the calendar widget below), just head over to androidpolice.com/podcast. For the unedited video show, click here (warning: this video is uncut). As always, we'll take your questions at 530-HELLO-AP and also at our email address: podcast at androidpolice dot com.
It's alright if you've already forgotten about Project Soli - with all of the crazy futuristic stuff that the Google Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) team works on, it's easy to get confused. Essentially, Soli is a system that adapts radar-style techniques into tiny hardware in order to enable the tracking of hands and fingers (or anything else, really) which in turn allows software to recognize hand gestures with precision and accuracy that beats anything on the consumer market today. It's pretty cool - watch this video from last year's Google I/O for a crash course.
Fans of the burgeoning art of 360-degree short-form storytelling have probably been enamored by Google's Spotlight Stories, a series of videos designed to highlight the narrative potential of the VR format. The latest one is Pearl, a sort of extended animated music video about a man, his daughter, and the beat-up hatchback car that they share over about 20 years. The short is directed by Patrick Osbourne, and the original song "No Wrong Way Home" was written by Alexis Harte and JJ Weisler and performed by Nicki Bluhm and Kelley Stoltz.
Mobile payments are often viewed as a replacement for cash and cards. Why carry layers of bills and plastic in your wallet when you can simply make purchases with your phone? But without universal acceptance, the reality is that there are places where swiping your phone isn't an option. Sometimes even a card won't do. You need cash. And what do you need to get cash from the ATM? A card. Great.
For Bank of America customers, that situation is about to change.
Android Auto is quite possibly shaping up to be the dark horse in Google's larger Android family. At I/O 2016, Google announced more new Android Auto features than it ever has before, including the much-demanded wireless mode which will finally see Android Auto freed from the tether of a USB cable (if that's something you're into).
The real story from an adoption perspective, though, wasn't really Wi-Fi mode, the standalone phone app, or Waze integration: it was a silly little tire pressure notification in a Honda Civic.
You see, to date, Android Auto's interface has had five tabs - telephony, navigation, media, home, and the mysterious "OEM" tab, which has an icon that looks like a vehicle gauge.
There are many opinions about wearable technology, but most criticisms focus on the awkwardness – or just plain unattractiveness – of many products that have come thus far. One of the more interesting presentations from I/O 2015 came during the ATAP session, in which Project Jacquard was introduced. This is a touch-sensitive fabric that can be woven into regular clothing and used a bit like a trackpad. This technology is being put to real use, and in a partnership with Levi Strauss, the first product using Jacquard will be launching next Spring.
Levi's is calling it the Commuter Trucker Jacket, a denim jacket with Jacquard woven into the left sleeve.
Project Ara was supposed to go into public testing last year, but that didn't happen. Google has been quiet about the state of its modular smartphone since then, but now there's a new demo video. It shows off some weird modules, but what about a release date? Well, there's nothing for regular people, but a developer edition will be available this fall.
It would definitely seem like Google is making Android N the 'polish' release: things which haven't seen any changes for years, like the System UI icon, are getting refreshed, while features are not being included in the final release because of a lack of polish (like the dark theme and night mode). Even the update procedure is getting updated.
As well as the aforementioned System UI icon, another long standing Android fan-favorite is getting a revamp: the OS update animation. Gone is the little Android figure with his front open, a prism turning, and his antenna going. It feels like it's been in Android forever, but it might be gone soon: instead, the new animation is a swirling circle of light, which looks great but maybe has lost some of its inherent Android-y-ness.
I love science. That has to be pretty obvious from both of my work fields, but there's also more to my passion for science than medicine and technology. My physics professor used to call me "The Brain" because, well, I had a knack for solving the most complicated physics problems he could come up with. I want my kids to have this same love for science and this same curiosity, and I'm glad that the world we're in right now not only encourages this kind of enthusiasm, it also celebrates it and has developed more communities and tools and environments where kids can indulge in their scientific pursuits.