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.
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.
As a Glass Explorer, I'm always excited to see new apps, especially if they improve Glass' user experience. Developer Matthew Pierce delivered one such app recently, making Glass Master Control available to the public via Dropbox.
Essentially, Master Control allows users to change Glass settings in a new, more fine-grained way. It controls volume, brightness, and radios (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and AutoSync). Until now, Glass hasn't had manual brightness controls, and volume control was buried in a settings card at the very left end of the timeline.
There's little doubt that the Chromecast is one of the best tech products released last year, and with the recent availability of the Google Cast SDK, it's on its way to getting even better. While the majority of users probably send content to Chromecast from their mobile devices, let's not forget that there's also a Chrome extension that allows things like Netflix, Play Music, YouTube, and even specific tabs to be beamed over to the TV.
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.
Google Fiber coming to your city, with its promise of gigabit Internet speeds up to 100 times faster than what most of us currently put up with, is about as awesome as winning the lottery often enough to buy Time Warner Cable yourself and using all of the company's resources to funnel a connection to your house and yours only. Thus far the service has only appeared in a few parts of the country, namely Kansas City, Austin, and Provo.