The XO Tablet that One Laptop Per Child was shuttling around the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center at CES back in January wasn't quite the final version of the company's first consumer-facing device. Now, a few weeks out from its official June 1st online availability, OLPC's finally got its hands on the shipping product. It's designed by Vivitar, a price-conscious manufacturer hand-picked by retail partner Walmart, marking the first time that the educational company didn't have a direct hand in the creation of its hardware, a big change from the custom components that have traditionally gone into its XO line.
OLPC's made some tweaks to the software, which runs atop of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, taking more advantage of the swipe functionality while navigating through its "I Want to Be An..." UI, which builds the child's experience around dream jobs like astronaut, artist and doctor. It's a super simplified interface built with an even younger target audience in mind than its XO laptops (ages 3 and up, according to the company). The tablet will come pre-loaded with 200 apps (100 in English and 100 in Spanish) and 200 books (also 100 English, 100 Spanish), including selections from content partners like Sesame Street and Oxford University Press. The idea is to offer up enough content so the child can be sufficiently entertained / educated even when not online.
Filed under: Tablets
So much of what children are taught in the sciences amounts to abstractions. It's a shame, really -- concepts of the universe are so much easier to extrapolate when we can see them for ourselves. OLPC's looking to give the classrooms it serves more access to the very big and very small with two new attachments that we had the opportunity to check out on a recent visit to the company's Miami office. First off is a telescope that secures to the side of its XO-4 laptop with a vice grip, utilizing the device's built-in camera. There's also a microscope that sits atop a swiveling base and plugs directly into one of the laptop's USB ports. Both peripherals run on Fedora-based software designed by the company.
OLPC will be bringing these out as soon as it can get the price down through manufacturing. For the France-designed telescope, the company is aiming for $10, with a potentially lower price on the microscope. The idea is to get one of each in a classroom, rather than the one-to-one approach of its XO line.
As a part of the 7 Techmakers and a Microphone panel tonight at Google I/O, Project Glass Staff Hardware Engineer Jean Wang dropped in this slide reflecting on the process of developing the headset. We've seen pictures of a few early Glass prototypes before, but as she describes, this shows off the full process from strapping a cellphone to a pair of goggles along with a pico projector shining directly into the wearer's eyes. The jump from off the shelf components to custom 3D-printed materials is represented in the third version (top right), and allowed the progress seen along the bottom row.
She also got a laugh pointing out that the Glass-inspired SNL skit starring our friend Fred Armisen wasn't "too far off" the team's initial efforts in gesture and voice control. The panel itself focused on a series of TED-style segments featuring seven women discussing being technical leaders inside their company. You can check out the entire thing embedded after the break or just zoom to the Google Glass part (6:13) for more details.
Yes, there's a fleet of camera-equipped, remote-controlled blimps live-streaming a bird's-eye view of Google I/O on YouTube, right now. It's called Google AirShow and it's taken over the airspace within Moscone Center. We briefly chatted with Chris Miller, a software engineer with AKQA (the company that put the dirigibles together for Google), about the technology used in each aircraft. It all begins with an off-the-shelf model airship that's flown manually via standard a 2.4GHz radio. Each blimp is outfitted with a servo-controlled USB camera and 5GHz USB WiFi dongle which are both connected to a Raspberry Pi board running Debian, VLC and Python. A custom-designed Li-polymer battery system powers the on-board electronics. The webcam encodes video as motion-JPEG (720p, 30fps) and VLC generates a YouTube-compatible RTSP stream that's broadcast over WiFi. Python's used to pan the servo-controlled camera via the Raspberry Pi's PWM output. The result is pretty awesome. But don't just take our word for it -- check out the gallery and source link below, then watch our hands-on video after the break.
Gallery: Google AirShow at I/O 2013
Source: I/O AirShow 2013
Currently, Google Wallet is available on a plethora of smartphones, but is there really such a thing as too much coverage? Google surely doesn't seem to think so. Earlier today, the company added support for its mobile payment system to the GS4, HTC One (Sprint) and the Galaxy Note II (Sprint and US Cellular). If you own one of these devices, hit the Google Play link below to add its NFC-powered tap and pay capabilities.
Source: Google Play
Take the 3D sensor inside the Microsoft Kinect, shrink it down to a tenth of its original size and add a bunch of mobile capabilities, and you have yourself PrimeSense's latest conquest, better known as Capri. The company, which is the brains behind the Kinect, has been openly working on bringing a tiny-yet-advanced 3D experience to tablets, televisions and smartphones for quite some time now. And it's proud enough of its progress so far that it's willing to give some real-life demonstrations to developers attending Google I/O. You may not see Capri embedded on the PCB of your portable gadget anytime soon -- at least, not until PrimeSense winds up wooing the pants off a lucky OEM or two -- so in the meantime, the company has connected the sensor board to the Nexus 10 via micro-USB.
Unlike the Kinect, however, PrimeSense doesn't think gestures will play a significant role in how we use Capri to interact with our gadgets. Rather, it seems to be more focused on 3D-based use case scenarios, many of which haven't even been thought up yet. As you'll see in the video below, we were shown an AR game that takes the environment around you -- walls, furniture and other elements -- and uses them as restrictions, just as much as they would be in real life. In another app, Capri snapped a three-dimension shot of an object on the table in front of us, captured its measurements and let us export that image to another device or even a 3D printer. In many respects, PrimeSense appears to be taking the same strategy Google does with Glass: get developers excited about the tech in the hopes they'll come up with clever uses for it. And while the company isn't ready to put Capri in their hands yet, the SDK is up for grabs, and I/O is no doubt an ideal place to build excitement for it. If you're looking for more info, we have a gallery, video and press release below, and you'll find the SDK at the More Coverage link.
Gallery: PrimeSense Capri demo at Google IO
As powerful as Android can be, Bluetooth is one of its glaring weaknesses: the absence of a default Bluetooth framework has led to inconsistent implementations from both device builders and app developers. Google is at last covering that gaping hole, however. As hinted earlier today, it's incorporating Bluetooth Smart Ready support (that is, Bluetooth 4.0 on a dual-mode chip) in an upcoming version of Android. Having a common platform should allow for more reliable behavior, not to mention fewer roadblocks to using low power Bluetooth Smart (single-mode Bluetooth 4.0) devices like the Fitbit Flex. There's only one catch that we can see, so far: when Google hasn't said how soon we'll get that Android upgrade, wireless peripheral lovers will have to remain patient.
Source: Bluetooth Blog
Google Glass is a lot of things, but it's hardly a superstar when it comes to the world of sports. Though we've seen proof it is at least water resistant, it doesn't feel particularly durable and isn't entirely well-suited to wearing while, say, sweating profusely during a lengthy climb on a road bike. Recon Instruments has what it thinks is a solution: the Jet. It's a pair of sporting sunglasses with an integrated, Android-powered display that could make things like running and cycling far more exciting -- or at least far more information-packed. Join us after the break for our impressions.
Gallery: Recon Instruments Jet hands-on
Filed under: Wearables
Nearly two years ago to the day, Google introduced Music Beta at I/O 2011. But in reality, it was little more than a gigantic cloud to store 20,000 of your favorite tracks. Despite a plethora of rumors that the search giant would beat Spotify to the punch by launching a subscription-based music service in the United States, we got a digital locker that has done little to distract most listeners from giving Rdio, Pandora, iTunes and other like services at least a piece of their heart. Fast forward to today, and Google's finally joining the bandwagon... in majorly limited fashion.
Google Music All Access is presently only available for mobile as an Android app, and only to users in the US. Moreover, it costs $9.99 -- the exact same sum as practically every one of its rivals. Rivals that have multi-year headstarts in terms of mind and market share. (Yes, it's $7.99 per month if you sign up prior to June 30th.) Google has landed deals with the same "major labels" as everyone else, but even product manager Paul Joyce affirmed to us here at I/O that All Access doesn't have access to any exclusives. In a post-keynote meeting with Joyce, he noted that this is only the start for the product. Naturally, Google's going to do its finest work on its own platform, but it's certainly odd to see iOS users left out in the cold given Google's acknowledgement of its importance just minutes earlier.
Source: Google Play
Google loves to use I/O as a platform for sharing its creativity with the world. This year, one of the masterpieces is a circular edifice consisting of two lines of Chromebook Pixels, with each keyboard on the outside. Ultimately, the artistic monument appears to highlight the Pixel's touchscreen and high-def display, as it flashes a wide variety of colorful imagery and music as you interact with each monitor. We have a gallery of images and a brief video below, showing off some of what this clever spheroid of Chrome OS can do.
Gallery: Google IO Chromebook Pixel circle
You might say the day is never really done in consumer technology news. Your workday, however, hopefully draws to a close at some point. This is the Daily Roundup on Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines for the past 24 hours -- all handpicked by the editors here at the site. Click on through the break, and enjoy.
According to Bernhard Seefeld, product management director at Google Maps, "this is the most significant overhaul of Maps since it launched in 2005." We sat down with both Seefeld as well as Jonah Jones -- lead designer of Google Maps -- following a marathon keynote to kick off Google I/O. Their slice of the event centered around the desktop refresh of Google Maps, but there's actually a lot more to be excited about than what was announced today. Essentially, the preview that I/O attendees were granted access to is the first instance of Maps for desktop using vectors instead of tiles. In lay terms, that's a far sexier rendering engine, and users of the mobile Maps products will already be familiar with how it feels. Seefeld affirmed that the new desktop Maps is slightly quicker to load, but you'll want a WebGL-supporting browser to take advantage of the bells and whistles. (In our tests, the Maps experience was far superior in Chrome compared to Firefox.)
We toyed around with the new layout for a bit, and overall, it looks and feels better. Refreshing, you could say. The search box is now entirely more useful, popping up intelligent cards beneath places you search for. You'll have glanceable access to operating hours, surrounding traffic and recommended places -- that's not new, it's just surfaced in a more sensible way now. There's also dedicated shortcuts to directions and starring. Visually, it looks a lot nicer, the zooms are a little cleaner, and the search box is a tad more useful. Street View is accessed via the search box now, and there's a toggle on the right side that overlays Google Earth data and (impressively) shows it from varying degrees of tilt. The magic really begins after you sign in with your Google account. If you've starred or rated a restaurant using Google Maps or Google+, for example, it'll automatically populate recommended eateries that your friends have rated highly. If, of course, your friends are using Google+.
Source: Google Maps preview
Google TV is getting a refreshed YouTube app to go along with its update to the latest versions of Android and Chrome. The video-streaming service now features a sleeker UI, complete with playlists displayed under the video discovery and subscription tabs and larger thumbnails for previewing content. The update also lets you subscribe to a channel with just one click, and it's now easier to share a clip via Google + as well. Other additions include more in-depth playback controls and support for paid subscriptions. Google TV owners can download the update now -- just hit up the source link below.
Via: Android Police
Initially, YouTube's live-streaming service was limited to select partners and special events, but that's about to change. Starting today, all channels in good standing with over 1,000 subscribers will be able to sign up for this broadcasting option. When using YouTube Live, account holders can insert ads, display multiple camera angles and add closed captions. Meanwhile, viewers can control a broadcast stream's playback by rewinding and skipping (previously aired content, of course) ahead à la Google Hangouts On Air. To add YouTube Live to your channel, visit your Account Features page and click the "Enable" button in the Live Events section. Google notes that eligible accounts will start gaining access in the coming weeks, which hopefully gives you enough time to save up for a teleprompter.
Source: YouTube Creators Blog
With the exception of a brief mention in Google Play for Education, Mountain View's book platform was all but absent from its Google I/O presentation. Still, the service is getting updated with a significant new feature: user uploads. It hasn't rolled out to all users yet, but those with access are now able to add up to 1,000 PDF and EPUB files to their Google Play online library. Both the Android and iOS versions of the app will be able to read these files starting today. The update brings a standard assortment of stability and performance improvements too, and Android users will see a few minor visual tweaks. Check out the source link below to see if the feature has rolled out to your account, or click here to peek at Google's biggest I/O announcements.
Via: Android Police
Google's new, unified Hangouts platform focuses heavily on its mobile apps, which give Android and iOS users a common platform for text and video chats. In theory, they're the cure for the consistency problems Google's messaging systems have faced for years. But are they the fixes we've all been waiting for, the all-encompassing solutions that have us dropping the likes of Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp? We gave Hangouts a test on both Android and iOS to find out -- check our impressions after the break.
Gallery: Google+ Hangouts app hands-on
During Google's extended edition opening keynote this morning, there was a distinctive lack of skydiving. However, developers showed off lots of interesting things, including functionality highlighting the easy, real-time syncing of data across multiple instances of the Chrome browser -- whether on smartphone or tablet or desktop. The on-stage demo was a simple slot car racing game but, out on the I/O floor Google had a somewhat more advanced implementation: Map Dive. Running on seven separate instances of Chrome and relying on a 3D camera, Map Dive lets you experience the Maps API from a rather elevated perspective. Join us after the break for an arm-waving demo.
Gallery: Map Dive at Google I/O
Phew. Day one of Google I/O is far from over, but there's already been an onslaught of news. While our editors are running around the floor, why not catch up on any bits of the opening keynote you may have missed? There's now a Galaxy S 4 with vanilla Android Jelly Bean for $649, a $9.99 per-month music subscription service and a host of updates for Google+, Play, Maps and others. Join us past the break where we've got it all neatly categorized for your viewing pleasure.
Microsoft has a good excuse for the Surface Pro's late arrival in the UK: the company claims that demand in the US stripped its cupboards bare, leaving nothing but RT crumbs to sell on this side of the Atlantic. In any case, Redmond tells us that a date has now been set, with the Core i5-powered tablet due to be available from Microsoft's online store from May 23rd. For once, Brits can look forward to dollar-equivalent pricing, with the 64GB version going for £719 and the 128GB model fetching £799 inclusive of VAT. (That may not be cheap, but at least it's fair.) Meanwhile, the bendy Touch Cover will continue to cost £99, and the more traditional key action of the Type Cover will add another tenner on top of that. So, there it is. Just in time for Haswell to make us wonder when a more power-efficient sequel might be coming out.
- Google reportedly signs deal with Sony and Universal
- Google launches All Access music-streaming service
- Google reportedly in negotiations with music labels to launch streaming service
Among the worst kept secrets to be revealed during today's Google I/O keynote was Play Music All Access. Mountain View's desire to create a subscription-based music streaming service was pretty well-documented. Now it's finally here, for $9.99 a month (or $7.99 if you're an early adopter and get in on the free trial before June 30th), with at least a couple major labels on board. Of course, All Access is entering a rather crowded field -- one already dominated by heavy hitters like Spotify. We spent the afternoon getting acquainted with Google's subscription music service to see if it has what it takes to hang with more established properties. Head on past the break to see what we learned.