Saturday, May 30, 2015

What exactly happened during the Google I/O 2015 keynote

Google is betting big on Android

This morning, the main keynote for Google I/O was held and it was full of announcements ranging from new services to hardware that'll create stereoscopic videos. It was quite an intense session and unlike Microsoft's BUILD conference which was literally developer focused for the most part, Google's keynote was quite playful. You would have definitely heard about unlimited storage for photos and GoPro's crazy camera rig but overall, what exactly can we conclude from the nearly 3 hour keynote?

First off, I want to talk about the venue and stage for the keynote. Google thought of this well and the wraparound display across both sides of the hall showed some creativity and the "fun" and cheerful part of the company. Before the keynote actually started, there was an intense game of Pong across the ultra-wide wraparound display across the hall and ultimately the champion turned out to be an asian dude.

To kickstart the keynote this year, Google didn't show an inspiring video about their products but instead the massive display was used to send everyone on a journey in the Milky Way. Ultimately, the light show ended up in planet earth and Sundar Pichai, the man which oversees nearly every product family in Google took the stage to roll out some quick update in Google's network.

Beyond the breathtaking intro video, Google managed to squeeze dozens of new announcements during the keynote and virtually everything was software based with the exception of the GoPro JUMP rig. Those who were expecting to see new Nexus hardware would be disappointed as Google didn't mention anything about new Nexus devices and that's quite reasonable because you wouldn’t want a device running software from last year, do you?

As per usual, Android is the big talk during the keynote and basically everything mentioned during the keynote has to do with Android and it is clear that Google is trying the broaden the device range for Android. Likewise, Android now spans from the Internet of Things all the way to Virtual Reality with Google Cardboard.

" Android: Auto, Wear, TV, Phone, Tablet

Besides highlighting unlimited storage for the new Google Photos app available for Android, iOS and the Web; Google Now on Android M is also getting quite some traction as being "smart". Similarly to what was rumored last year with Android Lollipop, apps will now plug into Google Now so you can perform the usual commands on a given app. Google calls this Now on Tap (NoT) and this Android M specific feature will intelligently answer your query based off the information on screen.

All you have to do is to long press the home button on Android M and a contextual Google Now card will pop up from below and tell you something about the information on screen. This can be useful in emails where you receive a message for a new movie and activing Now on Tap will help you understand what the movie is about and you can also build up questions upon questions related to the topic and Google Now will still be on track on what you're trying to ask.

Basically this is some pretty ingenious use for all the data Google already harnesses and the machine learning engine of Google Now comes in handy to identify points throughout the script which can be potential 'ask points'. As groundbreaking as this is, this feature however requires Android M to work but developers don't need to rework their application for Now on Tap to work, this is wholly a Google script on top.

It might sound a little creepy that all these new Google services like Now on Tap and Google Photos are snooping through your phones data but the outcome balances it up. In return for your data, Google is providing you with data you want to see and as a whole it's a win win situation for Google as they'll also be able to improve their machine learning research and thus providing better services in the future.
(click to enlarge)
Another thing new in Android Pay, Google's solution to Apple Pay and also Samsung Pay. This is just another mobile payments platform which works with Android Lollipop and beyond. Google isn't digressing much into what's unique about their platform but they are supporting upwards of 700 retailers in the US and AT&T, Verizon and Tmobile will be activating Android Pay on their Android devices.

Conclusively, Google might be working on polishing Android as a whole but one big problem still lies within everything and that is fragmentation. You just can't deny the fact that not every android phone out there today is running Android Lollipop and not even Google can assure that the new smartphone you're buying today will be updated to Android M. I'm not trying to be bias towards this matter nor do I think change will happen overnight but Google has to find a way to solve this problem with software updates. 


Android M

Following the alphabet game, this year the spotlight is set on the letter M and like last year, Google is rolling out a developer preview at Google I/O and a full consumer release will be coming in Q3 2015. In addition to that, Google says they will be pushing out two Android M updates in the coming weeks ahead and the changes will reflect on the bugs which developers testing the OS reports to.

The notion behind the new features in Android M is to polish and fix the existing problems that lie with Android. Google is pushing towards a more refined mobile operating system and building upon the refreshed look which Android Lollipop introduced last year, Android M seems to focus more on underlining changes rather than upgrading the aesthetics.
During the keynote 6 major features of Android M was talked on and that includes improved app permissions, better web experience, app links, mobile payments with Android Pay, fingerprint support and power/charging. These are just a handful of new changes coming to Android M and do check out the official changelog here.

Unlike what I was expecting to see, not much developmental updates for Android Wear was announced but Google did shed some interesting stats on the platform. According to Google, there are now over 4000 apps designed for Android Wear and there has since been 4 updates for Android Wear which improves and adds upon the original experience.

" Still no android wear support for the iPhone

In addition to that, Google says they are committed to updating all 7 android wear smartwatches currently available with new software to improve the overall experience. Although, they did not mention any new developments for Android Wear, there is some news for developers that is applications on Android Wear will soon be able to take advantage of all the onboard sensors to create a more personalized application.

Android Pay

There's just something exciting about mobile payments that I'll never understand and with Android M, Google is forging a new mobile payments platform which at this time still does not replace Google Wallet. Android Pay is a brand new service available for Android Lollipop and above devices but Android M devices will have deeper integration with this new mobile payments platform. 
Being introduced just in time, native support for fingerprint scanners on Android M will ease authentication for Android Pay and Google will be including an official API in Android M which enables developers to take advantage of Android Pay as well as the fingerprint scanner to authenticate the payment.

Internet of Things

As expected, Project Brillo was introduced and it'll be Google's highway to the Internet of Things. Quoted as to be derived from Android, this versatile platform will work well with existing Android devices. IoT might not mean much to you but this platform also relates closely with home automation and with the broad connectivity options at the core of Android, smart devices will definitely benefit from this integration.

Google says that a developers preview of Project Brillo will be released in Q3 2015. Alongside the Project Brillo is WEAVE, a common language in which IoT devices like lightbulbs and thermostats will communicate with each other. This common language will support both iOS and Android and will be paired alongside Project Brillo to complete Google's IoT network. WEAVE will be rolling out in Q4 2015.

Virtual Reality

There was no sight of a second generation Google Glass during the keynote but Google is renewing their efforts towards Virtual Reality with a new version of Google Cardboard which now supports phones up to 6 inches in size. Not only that, iPhones are now supported by Google Cardboard and Google is also opening up the SDK for developers to build VR apps for iOS.

The new version of Google Cardboard is just part of the story, the crazy idea creating a VR headset from cardboard is no getting serious. With a new pilot program called Expeditions, Google aims to bring students anywhere around the world with the help of Google Cardboard and this means that field trips will get even boring. Alongside that, Google is partnering with the American Museum of Natural History to create guided tours with Google Cardboard and more companies are expected to chip in on this too. 
The final piece of Google's Virtual Reality dreams is JUMP, this project aims to simplify the process of making immersive VR content and Google is starting with the camera rig which includes 16 uniquely different cameras on a circular rig. GoPro is the first of many to show off their awesome JUMP certified rig and with that, just about anyone can share amazing VR content online. Speaking of sharing, Google is utilizing the new "street view" like mode on Youtube to enable users to view VR content through Google Cardboard.

No news as to when the GoPro rig will be publically available but Google will be sharing the schematics for the DIY camera rig.

Google photos

Probably the headline of the show, the new Google Photos app is a new archiving platform which not only intelligently group images but it'll also help you edit photos. Basically, this acts pretty much like your standard gallery app but the main difference is that under the hood is the prowess of Google's machine learning engine. With that, you'll be able to do things like search an item inside your picture and your photos will magically be tagged too.

The glue sticking all of this together is no the rich engine behind all the magic but it's the unlimited storage. Google says they'll be uploading photos up to 16MP and videos up to 1080P in it's original format to Google Drive. Truth be told but this is just a deal too hard to resist when you look at the competition which charges upwards of $100 for just 1TB of cloud storage per year.

Monday, May 25, 2015

6 things to expect from Google I/O 2015

Android is coming to every screen

The ecosystem wars will resume this week during Google IO. Microsoft has already dished out quite a lot of new development updates towards Windows 10 and Apple is bound to show off new software during WWDC early next month. But before that happens, Google's annual developers conference will be taking place in San Francisco this Thursday and this year it's going to be big given that the competition is as strong as it gets.
" Moscone Center is where Microsoft, Google and Apple hold their developers conference
We're expecting a lot from Google this year, they've been subtly quiet for the past few months but numerous reports have been stating they'll be reiterating lots of new services during this year's conference. There is still a lot of unanswered question about the future of various Google products like will consumers be able to buy Google Glass this year or is Google going to make a Nexus branded Android Wear smartwatch? All will be answered during the 2.5 hour keynote on Thursday morning.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Microsoft Lumia turns blue, what happened to purple?


About a year ago this time, Microsoft completed the acquisition of Nokia's Mobile division and fresh out of the waters, the branch of Microsoft was called Microsoft Mobile or Microsoft Devices. Accordingly, the upcoming months featured new device launches which still bear the Nokia name like the Nokia Lumia 830 and Nokia Lumia 730. That didn't last long as Microsoft officially announced in October that they will be rebranding Nokia to Microsoft Lumia and the change is set to spread out onto social media accounts in the coming months ahead.

Seemingly enough, today we're quite familiar with the Microsoft Lumia branding and it does sound a little catchy but saying Microsoft Lumia 640 XL Dual SIM is a mouthful.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Visual guide to installing Windows 10 IoT Core on your Raspberry Pi 2

In a blink of an eye, we're already 8 months into testing windows 10. The unfinished pre-release software from Microsoft has come a long way and lots of things have changed since it was initially released last October. During the day 1 keynote at Build 2015, Microsoft laid out the future of Windows 10 development and besides focusing mainly on the Universal Windows Platform, they briefly mention Windows IoT.

Internet of things is a pretty hot concept these days and just everyone is hitching onto it, even Microsoft. Quoting what Terry Myerson said "with Windows 10, we are targeting the largest device span ever". From the likes of HoloLens all the way to the smallest of devices (IoT), Microsoft is genuinely interested in bringing Windows 10 these devices.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

7 days with Samsung's premium android experience, the Galaxy S6

When you're talking about Android, the first thing that comes to mind is Samsung and I am sure everyone is familiar with Samsung's massive lineup of Galaxy devices. Over the years, Samsung has built up their name in the mobile space with their army of Android powered devices which literally come in every shape and size. But this year, Samsung is turning over the leaf and changing the way they manufacture their smartphones.

The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge are one of the first smartphones Samsung announced this year. Unveiled at MWC 2015, Samsung took the limelight from basically everyone at the show. Reports say that Samsung designers went back to the drawing board with the Galaxy S6 and the results is a uniquely different Samsung phone, a smartphone which introduces a lot of firsts for the company.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Here's a quick look at Samsung's new earbuds

What's in the box, pretty much every gadget you buy comes with one and beyond the included cables, literature (warranty and safety information) and some instances of stickers to stick everywhere, that's about it for included accessories. So, the Galaxy S6 is now out and besides having a new 'fast charger' and a SIM removal too, it also features a brand new pair of Samsung earbuds.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

April Fools 2015 review, from Pacman to miniature drones

We just concluded the years' most busy day which was full of innovative product announcements. Heck yeah, the amount of announcements being made on April 1st can be compared to that of a single day at CES or MWC. Whether you ended up feeling excited for the imaginary product or you saw through the trick, there's no harm in creating some laughs and hypes during this special day.

Sometimes I just think that if companies would be as innovative as they were on April 1st, the market will definitely be filled with creative products. Well, thankfully some of these 'inventions' do end up being a reality. Take for example the Gmail April fools prank last year about shelfies, Google still keeps that feature on till today am loving it.
This year there was no lack of new innovations being shown off to the world from tiny drones all the way to autonomous cars that'll save you from a parking ticket, here is the lowdown on what went down.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Setting up the Raspberry Pi 2 for the first time

Smartphones are all the rage and talk these days but there is another piece of tech which is on the rise in the recent years and that is the Internet of Things. The simple definition for IoT is it connects services or devices together and it's meant to replace the traditional way of executing tasks manually. It is so popular that Microsoft has announced that they'll be creating a dedicated version of Windows 10 for IoT devices.

In terms of the hardware, IoT is all about being small, compact and low power which enable it to run on just anywhere. Well, one of the more well known IoT board is the Raspberry Pi which was initially created to teach students how to code. The low price of the Raspberry Pi and it's expandability contributed to it's overall success in the market.

Well, just a few days ago i picked up the brand new Raspberry Pi 2 for about $40 (including taxes) today i'm going to run you through the setup process (this tutorial also applies to the Raspberry Pi).

Here's some glamour shots of the Raspberry Pi 2, stay tuned for some content in the coming days #RaspberryPi2 #RaspberryPi #Raspbian
Posted by The Technology Of Today International on Saturday, March 28, 2015

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 10041 in pictures


The wait for a new preview build has evidently ended (for this week) and after two months since Microsoft started seeding Build 9926, today they are releasing Build 10041 which brings us closer to the final release of Windows 10 later this Summer. In this build, the Windows 10 team did not include the Project Spartan browser nor the new Cortana interface but there are several visual improvements which is enough to satisfy us Windows Insiders for the time being.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

This is the new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and it's awesome!

The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge were both announced earlier this week at MWC 2015 and from the looks of it Samsung is finally changing their nasty habit. Well, that is what my first impressions of the two new handsets Samsung announced during the biggest mobile trade show of the year. Out is the gimmicky plastic and so called 'non premium' build quality and in is the new unibody design made of premium elements like glass and aluminum which wraps the device.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Guide to restoring back to Windows Phone 8.1 from Windows 10 Technical Preview

Enjoying Windows 10 for your phone, well the fun would most likely end if you're just trying out the update. As I mentioned in our hands on with the preview build of Windows 10, the software is just not ready for daily use and in most cases is just unbearable compared to the Windows Phone we know and love. If you followed our guide to installing the Windows 10 for phones preview, this is like the continuation of that. Microsoft was kind enough to allow users to try out unfinished software and with that they are also providing a program to restore your phone back to it's original state.

How to install Windows 10 Technical Preview on you Windows Phone

During the January event early last month, Microsoft showed off new inclusions to the window 10 family. Apart from unveiling the futuristic HoloLens headset, they also showed off for the very first time a version of Windows 10 made for small tablets and phones. Windows 10 for phones (or whatever it ends up being called) was destine to replace the Windows Phone name later this year. Today, Microsoft has released the first technical preview for existing Windows Phone device.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

We're 3 years old today, here's to another great year ahead

The day has come again, it was about 3 years ago this day that I started my tech blogging journey. Since then I have learnt a lot of new things about this industry as well as met some interesting people. Year after year during this very day I usually talk about the happenings of the past year and a short post mortem of the outgoing year. But this year I really have nothing much to say about the past year, throughout the years we have been dropping the amount of posts being published and last year we only posted 20 articles compared to over 800 in the first year. That is a major difference in raw numbers and its mainly due to the focus shift from writing news articles to exclusively writing independently opinionated articles. The strategy so far has been solid as the numbers/readers are promising enough to continue on.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Here's some facts about Windows 10 you need to know

Last year, Microsoft released a Technical Preview for Windows 10 which allowed users to try the unfinished build(s) and earlier this week the story continues. The 2 hour long keynote focused on several services powered by Windows 10 and frankly speaking there was a lot of information being pushed out during the 2 hour long keynote. It took me some time to digest all of it. During the keynote, Microsoft showed off some new things like Windows 10 for phones, XBOX streaming for PCs and the unexpected HoloLens which intros holgrams to the world.

In this article i am not going to focus too much on what Microsoft showed off, rather i am going to brief you on some of the facts about windows 10 that you need to know. These facts will not only be for windows 10 for the desktop, the OS as a whole is considered.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Here's what to expect in the Windows 10 Consumer Preview

In a few days time, Microsoft will be showcasing the future of Windows to the world. After previewing Windows 10 last fall, it looks like Microsoft is finally going to get things right this time. The technical preview released was indeed an uncomplete OS and the features will not be limited to what Microsoft employees could think of. Instead they asked users for their feedback to request what they actually want in the next version of windows. The event will be mainly focusing on the desktop side of things but they might squeeze in some things about windows 10 for phone or whatever they end up calling it. Well here are some things which I would definitely like to see on the final version of windows 10

Sunday, January 11, 2015

TTOT Update 2K15.1

Well, hey we're back. For the past few months or maybe for the last year this blog felt like it was being discontinued. The actual fact that in 2014 was busy year for me and yes laziness was also part of the problem. I entered college in January last year and since then i've been putting this blog on the sideline and focusing more towards my studies. But after about a year of dealing primarily with my college coursework and exams, i think that it's finally time for me to address this blog and continue to do what i like which is writing about tech. This post was actually going to be named an announcement but then i thought why not make it an update article because it's been quite popular in the Youtube world where the host talks about the current status of the channel and adds in some upcoming plans. For 2015, i am planning to change things around.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Playing around with Office Sway

Office-Sway-hands-on When you talk about Microsoft, it's most likely about Windows or Office. The Office brand is synonymous with the Microsoft brand and when it comes to word processing and spreadsheets, Microsoft Office is still ruling the desktops. In today's world where users try to get the most out of their software, Microsoft seems to be losing it everywhere except on the desktop. That however, brought upon Office Online which is probably the most versatile Microsoft product yet. All you need is just an internet connection paired up with a modern browser and you're on your way to becoming a productive person. Compared to Google Docs, Office Online is a lot more graphical and retains the iconic office ribbon which makes doing work feel right at home. Currently there are a couple of Office applications available on Office Online and last week, Microsoft showed off the latest edition to the family. They call it Office Sway and it's ready to redefine how we share and express our thoughts.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hands on with Windows 10 Technical Preview

windows-10-feature-vs-window-8 It's no secret that Windows 8 was a complete flop. From market share to feedback from end users, the response has been pretty bad. The successor to Windows 7 introduced the Metro UI (now called Modern UI) to the desktop which has previously been introduced with Windows Phone 7. With this new version, Microsoft decided to kill the start menu which was introduced back in the 90's on Windows 95. The iconic menu system was replaced with a touch centric start screen which was filled with live tiles. Month's after Windows 8 was released, Microsoft realized where they got it wrong and started to fix things up by introducing back the start button and an option to boot straight into the desktop.

Despite that, the reception was still not there because of the supposedly high learning curve windows 8 imposes; from the windows store apps to the hidden charms bar, users were scratching their head. I can relate to this because when I first used windows 8 I didn't even know how to shut down the PC without punching in ALT + F4. Two years into the introduction of Windows 8, someone in Microsoft decided that this has to stop and last week, Microsoft revealed their master plan for the future of windows. They're calling it Windows 10 and for obvious reasons, the new operating system was such a leap ahead that they're skipping a number. In actual fact, they wanted to call it Windows One which would play nicely with the XBOX One and OneDrive name but Windows One has already been done 30 years ago.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sony has three new Xperia Z3 phones and tablets

01_Xperia_Z3_family_smartwearThe Xperia Zx lineup of devices have always received positive rating from both reviewers and consumers. It's industrial boxed up design and round aluminum power button has since then become a hallmark design of Sony's flagship devices. At IFA last week, Sony has did it again, by announcing yet another flagship smartphone this year. Unlike Samsung which does announce flagship device every 6 months, Samsung's flagship actually is catered for two markets but sony is beginning to act silly. with the Xperia Z3, they officially have 3 incremental versions of the same phone with near identical hardware and slight tweaks to the software.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Samsung's new Galaxy Note 4 and everything else from Unpacked

Galaxy-Note-4-articleThe Galaxy Note lineup stretches back to IFA 2011 and since then Samsung have pioneered the phablet market and brands like LG, Sony and even Apple have been busy replicating the big screens on their devices but failed to create a success mainly because they don't have Samsung's magical addition to the Galaxy Note which is the S Pen. For the past three years Samsung has been changing the way how the Galaxy Note looks like and last year’s Galaxy Note 3 design was probably the most sophisticated one yet. Unlike Galaxy S devices, the Galaxy Note lineup has often been regarded as Samsung's premium offering of the year. Being announced months after the flagship Galaxy S series, Samsung will have time to optimize the features that they implemented earlier and take a pick at which is better.