Google continues to slowly-but-surely make Google Glass more widely available. Now, anyone willing to put down $1,500 can head to the Google Play store and grab the Google Glass “Explorer Edition,” previously only available to those who'd scored an exclusive invitation. Yep, here at the end of 2014 Google still hasn't been able to get a mass consumer version of Glass out the door, so the expensive beta developer product is all you can get for now. Alongside Glass, buyers can also pick up accessories like frames, a custom earpiece, and shades.
The Glass Explorer Edition was originally announced in February 2013, with many predicting that a cheaper consumer version would follow in late 2013 or early 2014. Over a year-and-a-half later there still seems to be no sign of it on the horizon. At Google I/O 2014, Google's biggest event of the year, Glass didn't get a mention at all.
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Google I/O 2014 kicks off today, with the big keynote starting at 9:00 AM PDT / 12:00 PM EDT, and you can join in and watch the presentation in the player above. What are we expecting to hear about during the Google I/O 2014 keynote? Well, the biggest piece of news will likely be the reveal of the next version of Android, likely Android 5.0. We'll get a look at the future of Android smartphones and tablets, in addition to set-top boxes. Google will be showing off a new Android TV set-top box, which is interesting since Google TV hardware failed so miserably over the last few years. Wearables should also be big today, with Google Glass and Android Wear devices getting some stage time. Google also typically releases Google+ updates during the I/O keynote as well.
What are you hoping to hear about from Google this morning?
Chris Weber is the CVP of Mobile Devices Sales at Microsoft, re-joining the company through it's purchase of Nokia, where he was in charge of global sales. He knows his way around every Lumia device, and is now aiming to make sure that Windows Phone first-party hardware is an even player at the devices table. We were able to sit down with Chris to talk about Nokia, Lumia, Windows Phone, and what changes need to be made in order to realize the success he is seeking. Check out the full interview below:
When is Windows Phone 8.1 coming out?
The answer varies by device and operator. The Lumia 630 and 635 are the first 8.1 products, launched internationally. We’re also working with our current products, and any Windows 8 phone is upgradeable to 8.1. There is currently a developer preview, but the operator version requires further testing. 8.1 is a completely different experience. Things like the background wallpaper, increased customization, and especially Cortana, which is one of the best features.
There are key differences between Cortana and similar services on other devices. It proactively learns. The other day I was flying to Moscow. The week before, it asked if it wanted me to track my flight to Moscow. There is a link that says "Do you want to know how I knew that?" Cortana looked at my calendar and started looking up flight numbers. It also has geo-fencing. You can say "Remind me that Ignacio owes me $100." I can say remind me when I send an email, when I arrive home, etc. Or "Remind me to pick up my dry cleaning" and when you get in the area, the message pops up. "Remind me to pick up milk at the grocery store” and you get the choice of having it remind you when you are near any grocery store, not just one specific one.
Back to being on the plane, I said "Remind me to download the music for guitar when I get home." It's really, really good. Flow writing, which is similar to Swype, means I can do emails faster on my phone than on the keyboard now. I got a new phone and it wasn't running 8.1 and the hunt and peck was tough!
If you live in the world of video gaming, you probably know about Twitch. It's a sound concept. Watch other people play video games. I know I did it when I was nine, there was always a group of us kids around the the guy with the Gameboy playing Mario as we cheered him on.
Now it comes down to watching strangers play over the internet in real time and instead of five guys looking at a handheld console over their friend’s shoulder, it's 43 million people watching a sum total of 6 billion hours of video game coverage every single month.
Those are some big numbers, and if there is one company that has a good nose for big numbers and the internet, it's Google. Now sources connected to Google have let it slip that the internet giant YouTube, owned by Google, is looking to acquire Twitch for $1 billion.
Should the deal go through, Twitch would gain access to Google's nigh-unlimited resources to expand. It also could run afoul of United States monopoly laws, granting Google a majority share of internet video game streaming services.
Twitch alone accounted for 1.35% of all downstream bandwidth in North America in March, with Youtube raking in 18.67%.
It's still in the rumor stage unfortunately, with Youtube and Twitch refusing to confirm talks, naturally. We'll see what banner I'm streaming under when July rolls around.
Google wants you to get them while they are hot. Google Glass has made its public premiere, but the company warns that its inventory is limited. When it opened a preliminary sale last month Google burned through the overwhelming majority of its Glass inventory in a single day and were forced to close up shop.
Since then Google has been building up its supply of the long-anticipated gadget. And as of Wednesday morning, they have announced open season on the Google Glass Explorer edition. It's still in the beta, but Google wants this to be its open test, as they announced via company blog this morning.
The Explorer carries a pretty heavy price tag: $1,500 in its current form. It's certainly outside of my range, so it looks like I won't be getting one just yet. Google says it plans a more widespread release of the Glass later this year. If that's the case, we're curious if the price will stay the same, and if not, how the company will handle the unhappiness of those who may have paid much more.
Want your own pair right now? Hit the link below!
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It looks like Samsung is set to announce its new Galaxy S5 smartphone at the Samsung Unpacked 5 event on February 24th. It was previously expected that the Galaxy S5 would be announced at Mobile World Congress, similar to the S4 last year, but perhaps Samsung wants to churn out a new model a bit quicker this year.
Recent reports suggest that Samsung will align its Android devices a bit more closely with Google's vision, rather than in the grandiose fashion they've used in the past, focusing on superfluous features that weren't that exciting or usable in the real world. Of course, Samsung isn't saying anything, keeping the cat in the bag until February 24th.
Google just announced that it will acquire Nest, the company that sells the popular and impressive connected Smart Thermostat and Protect smoke alarm devices, for $3.2 billion. With the deal, Nest founders Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers will join Google, bringing the two men who pretty much brought the iPod to life into Google's clutches.
"They’re already delivering amazing products you can buy right now–thermostats that save energy and smoke/CO alarms that can help keep your family safe," said Google CEO Larry Page in a statement. "We are excited to bring great experiences to more homes in more countries and fulfill their dreams!"
Google says that Nest will continue to operate independently, and Nest says that the customer data will be kept separate from the rest of Google data mining. We've seen similar promises from other companies Google has purchased in the past, and many of them were broken. We'll see how this one pans out. The acquisition is now pending regulatory review, and will likely take a few months to close.
Now that the Moto X has landed on Verizon and AT&T, Sprint is up next to launch the customizable smartphone from Motorola. Sprint will have the Moto X for $199.99 with the typical two-year contract, but for a limited time, customers switching over a number from a competing carrier will get $100 off the price instantly, making the phone just $99.99. Sprint will offer the Moto X in woven black and white, with support for the highly-customizable Moto Maker versions coming later.
Google Android (and Chrome) head Sundar Pichai has announced the next version of Android: KitKat. Yep - Android 4.4 will be known as KitKat, a name Google got the rights to use in partnership with Nestle, and continues the tradition of Android versions being named after sweet confections. While Google had been using the name "Key Lime Pie" internally for Android 4.4, "very few people actually know the taste of key lime pie," according to Android director of partnerships John Lagerling. Not sure why that matters, but obviously KitKat is a bigger marketing play.
No new features of KitKat have been announced just yet, but at least we know the name, and have a new Android icon with integrated chocolatey KitKat goodness integrated in.
Google is currently running a promotion that lets buyers of specially-marked KitKat packs to have a chance to win a free Nexus 7 or some Google Play credit.
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With Apple expected to release the lower-cost iPhone 5C next month, Google has just cut the price of the Nexus 4, dropping it to $199 for the 8GB model without contract--that's $100 less than it cost just a day ago. If you prefer the 16GB version, you can get that one for $249. These prices are a steal for the Nexus 4, which is widely seen as the best current Android smartphone, even thought it lacks LTE. This is a much more inexpensive way to get the pure Google experience in a smartphone than it would be to buy the Google Play editions of the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S 4. The price cut is now live in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Korea, the United States, and the UK.
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