Google announced a number of new partner apps today on stage at Google I/O during the “Developing for Glass” session. Facebook and Twitter were the highlights of the list, which also included Evernote, Tumblr, Elle and CNN, in addition to the previously announced NYT and Path apps.
The CNN app sends video to Glass via updates, and streams news to a browsable feed. The Twitter app provides your stream, as well as posting capabilities and the power to snap photos from Glass and post them direct to your stream. On stage, Glass developer evangelist Timothy Jordan emphasized the DM capabilities on Twitter for Glass and how the messages add to a thread that becomes a bundle on Glass.
Evernote on Glass holds true to its note-taking roll, giving users the ability to have their notes shared to Glass from the web or mobile apps. Content is translated to simple text by the Glass service and displayed as simple short paginated messages.
Facebook on Glass essentially acts as a new photo sharing tool, giving users a chance to immediately post pics to their FB timeline, and to then add captions and descriptions to those images via voice input once they’re posted. The pics can be deleted immediately if added by accident, and also shared either privately or with friends and the public. Jordan described the simple sharing and annotation features as exemplary of how a Glass experience should work.
Elle provides snippets in the form of headlines to make it easy to browse through at a glance, and you can also add things to reading lists, or have articles read aloud. For Elle, Jordan said it’s a good way to funnel users to the main website later, and also a means of providing them with info about what articles are proving most interesting to users.
All the apps are available today if you’re lucky enough to be an Explorer or a developer with access to the hardware.
Meet the Lumia 925, the latest smartphone flagship in Nokia’s increasingly populous Windows Phone portfolio. The 925 is clearly Nokia’s answer to criticisms of its high end devices being too heavy. At the device’s London launch earlier today, Vodafone’s Patrick Chomet – brought onstage to talk up the new Lumia which the carrier will be ranging in Europe — couldn’t avoid commenting negatively on the Lumia 920’s weight. For all the noise about the 925’s camera, its less hefty hardware is the key design difference here.
The 925 drops a full 46g compared to the earlier Lumia 920, weighing in at 139g vs the 920’s hefty 185g. The phone feels pleasingly light in the hand, helped by its slender profile: it’s just 8.5mm thick at its thickest point (vs 10.7mm for the 920). In order to achieve a sleeker, lighter device, yet keep the 4.5-inch display, Nokia has dropped built-in wireless charging – but it’s not ditching the tech entirely. It has included wireless charging as an add-on via clip-on shells – likely sold separately — which increase the thickness of the 925 by a few millimetres but don’t appear to add too much weight back on.
It’s a compromise but one that results in a sleeker, more attractive handset out of the box. If it’s a choice between wireless charging – which remains something of a gimmick — or a lightweight phone, most people would opt for the latter. And that’s a calculation Nokia has clearly made with the 925.
The handset design also takes a few steps in a new direction for the Lumia range, with aluminium edging running around its four sides – a band which doubles as the phone’s antenna – coupled with a polycarbonate back. The two-tone look and feel is a definite departure for Nokia’s high end phone design. Colour options are also more subtle, with the black version having anodized, almost charcoal looking aluminium edging, while the white 925 has silver edges. There’s also a grey colourway. The trademark bright Lumia colours are reserved for the wireless charging shells — including red, yellow and cyan.
The PureView-branded 8.7MP camera on the 925 is the other big focus here. The hardware introduces a sixth lens to the device, which Nokia says improves performance in bright sunlight. This is in addition to strong low-light capabilities, which it has touted on its other Lumia flagships – including most recently the Lumia 928.
During the 925 launch Nokia demoed both the low and bright-light photography capabilities of the phone, inviting the press to compare the shots with photos taken on their own smartphones. The Lumia 925 came off as better at snapping in the dark than iPhones, the BlackBerry Z10, the HTC One and even the Lumia 920, pulling a brighter, more colourful image from out of the gloom. It also appeared to capture more detail in strong light conditions in Nokia’s test conditions.
As well as the extra hardware lens, the 925 includes a new suite of camera-editing software called Nokia Smart Camera. This makes use of a burst mode that takes 10 photos at around 5MP each. It then offers a series of image-manipulation options to enhance the photo. Some of these features were a little hit and miss under the press launch lighting conditions. Others looked a little gimmicky, such as the ability to composite a series of movements into one shot. But others seemed like they could be genuinely useful, such as a feature that allows you to create the best shot by choosing from various facial expressions — much like the timeshift feature on the BlackBerry Z10/Q10. Or another that lets you remove a moving object from an image, such as a person or car passing in front of the scene you’re trying to shoot.
The Smart Camera software won’t be exclusive to the Lumia 925 for long – Nokia said it will be pushed out to other Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices as an update in Q3. But for the moment, the Lumia 925 has the lion’s share of Nokia’s camera creativity, including some new features in its Creative Studio image editing app, such as a tilt shift and radial focus. And the Oggl app.
One more new software addition in the 925′s screen settings allows users to tweak the colour saturation and temperature of the AMOLED screen to dial down how poppingly bright the colours are and opt for more muted, photo-realistic tones if you desire. Elsewhere, this is a business-as-usual Windows Phone 8 device loaded with the usual suite of Microsoft and Nokia apps, which include its HERE mapping and location apps and Nokia Music. It is also skinned with the new more flexible Windows Phone homescreen that allows for three different-sized live tiles.
The 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon chip powering the Lumia 925 doesn’t sound that beefy, considering the proliferation of quad-core phones in the Android ecosystem at least, but it’s as top-of-the range as Windows Phone gets right now. And Nokia argues that no more processing clout is required to do all of the image processing going on under the 925′s hood.
Until now, you’ve had to track your free storage on Google products separately. It was just another thing that Google hadn’t brought together to make it easier on users. Today, the company announced that you’ll now have 15GB of free storage to share between Drive, Gmail and Google+ Photos. Google Apps customers are getting a bump for Drive and Gmail to the tune of 30GB.
This falls in line with what Google has been pushing along with its Chromebook laptops — one huge cloud to manage all of your stuff. The company says that with this change in approach you’ll no longer be limited to a 25GB upgrade for Gmail, meaning if you grab more space for your Google products, it’s shared everywhere.
Also, it’s a push for unification and a nice shove for the “Drive” brand, which now serves as your online hard drive for everything…not just documents. It’s easier for consumers to get their heads around thinking of their email being stored on their “Google Drive.”
Here’s a look at the updated dashboard to check in on how much space you have left, which should be rolling out soon:
Here’s a look at the existing dashboard, which doesn’t push the 200GB option like the new one does, and still lists the 25GB upgrade, which also bumped your Gmail storage up. Confusing, right?
This approach will help Google onboard new Android users as well, as it’s much easier to grasp one number that applies to storage, much in the same way that Apple’s iCloud works. For example, when a new Chromebook user opens their laptop for the first time, they’re given free Drive storage, but that approach isn’t complementary to the rest of Google’s services.
The storage will be important to those uploading photos on Google+ though, which wants you to share your full-sized images, specifically if you’re a photographer. It’s easy to run out of space after sharing a few hundred of those. For Google, this makes upselling storage much easier, especially if someone is heavy on uploading photos and not so much filling up their allotted email storage.
The sweet spot for Google would be to get as many users to invest in $9.99 for 200GB a month as possible. This is more space than most will ever need, but the comfort that comes along with not worrying about running out of space is worth the 10 bucks for most. As Google continues to unify all of its products, that extra space might come in handy. For enterprise App customers, it’s one less thing to worry about when managing an entire team’s worth of accounts.
[Photo credit: Flickr]
Airbnb released an update to its Android app today to help property owners and hosts better manage their listings. With the release, hosts can handle all the steps prior to selecting guests for their home, while also keeping track of when it’s available.
Previously these mobile features were only available for iOS devices. However, with only 5 percent of its total active hosts using Android devices, Airbnb could be hoping that because of this update, existing Android users will find it more appealing and new device users will sign up.
Airbnb says that when it tested these features on iOS, it resulted in “amazing” engagement. The company tells us that users who have downloaded the iPhone app are 83 percent more engaged and 78 percent more responsive than they were before. Take these percentages with a grain of salt as specific numbers were not provided.
In the update, hosts will now be able to manage all their pre-approval options, including denying reservations or requesting more information. Additionally, it also includes a calendar management feature that lets hosts choose when their listings are available.
Prior to its arrival on Airbnb’s mobile apps, users needed to use the company’s website to manage all of these features.
Photo credit: Thinkstock/iStockphoto
Remember Slide, that social technology company acquired by Google way back in 2010? No? Well, just to jog your memory, one of the first products to emerge from that acquisition was an iOS (yup) app called Photovine, which rolled out in July 2011.
In the build up to launch, Slide had been teasing the public with news of the app, after it emerged that Google had registered the trademark and .com domain name; then a splash page emerged teasing a few more details.
After a short private beta period, it was finally launched to the public in August 2011, and we went hands on with the social photo-sharing app, giving it a favorable review. However, Google pulled the plug on Slide and Photovine the following March and, well, that was the last we heard of it until earlier this year, when the Photovine brand emerged from Los Angeles-based app development company Silo Labs.
Silo Labs is a Stanford & USC alumni startup, funded by Tech Coast Angels to the tune of $220,000, and Photovine is the first app of its conveyor belt. Though Silo Labs now own the Photovine trademark, it seems Google still owns the Photovine.com domain name, and the Internet giant has declined to release this to them. As such, Photovine has plumped for Photovineapp.com as its main splash page.
Soft-launched in March this year, Photovine has been iterating its photo-aggregation app, though at the time of writing it only reels in photos from Facebook and Instagram. This will be fine for many folk.
It’s also worth noting here that it isn’t really the same thing as Google’s product, all that’s happened here is a brand name acquisition.
You will of course need to connect your Instagram or Facebook account, which you’ll be prompted to do when you spin the little wheel on the main screen.
Assuming you have connected both accounts, you can opt to filter your snaps for each platform by images you’ve personally uploaded, ones your friends have uploaded or ‘all photos’. It would be good to have an addition option here, to display all your own photos from both Instagram and Facebook, and omit your friends’ uploads.
You’re then presented with a Flipboard-style magazine of photos, which you can click on individually or view as a slideshow. You can set transition time and even play music. And shaking your iPhone changes the slideshow animation.
The music is turned off as a default which is only right, and when you switch it on you’ll be prompted to play any song from your device. Personally, I have no real desire to play music while viewing photos, but it seems the guys at Photovine have one eye on future monetization via music partners – how this eventually transpires, remains to be seen.
Interestingly, Photovine also doubles as a camera app, allowing you to snap photos, carry out some basic (or plain bad) edits and share them to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Photovine operates in a very competitive space, with the likes of Snapjoy (recently acquired by Dropbox) and Pixable already strutting their stuff. Indeed, the latter of these is probably the most comparable to Photovine, and Pixable is already cross-platform and integrates with Twitter and other platforms too.
Photovine, however, is a well constructed app, offering a really nice interface which is fun to use. Plus, it is early days, so there is a lot of room for iteration. The company says it’s working on an Android and iPad incarnation, as well as some “very exciting features” for Photovine 2.0.
Photovine is available to download for free from the App Store now.
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Feature Image Credit – Thinkstock