The wave of Google news continued through their second day and while there was more technical data and less diamonds there are still many things that are worth learning about.

Project Tango has been shown in prototype form several times but has now been confirmed that it will be made into a consumer product by LG that will be available next year. Tango uses advanced accelerometers and cameras that let it perceive the world around it in a 3d manner.  This has a number of possible uses from indoor mapping and directions, 3d item scanning or even a sort of super Kinect on steroids.  It was demonstrated using as part of a UAV to map a disaster zone or collapsed building.

Ara (also called phonebloks) has also shown some progress.  The modular phone system was demonstrated with a working prototype in public for the first time (although they had problems making it boot).  There is still a debate as to whether Ara is something that would actually be wanted by consumers but Google seems to believe that even if they cannot guarantee a market for it then learning how to do it would give Android and advantage by itself.  They also announced a competition with a $100,000 prize for anyone who can design a Ara module that does something new and unique.

Finally the new version of Android was released to developers and is available if you are very brave and have a Nexus 5 or 7.  Lifehacker has some very good instructions here on how to install it on your device.  It is not the full release so the stylistic changes are not everywhere yet but it the direction is clear and obvious immediately.  Everything is much more reactive and gives much more feedback on what you press.  Time will tell if this is popular or turns out to be annoying with use, but first signs are good.

The L release was also reported to have changed the way multitasking is handled and this is shown in the preview.  The most obvious change is the blurring between Chrome tabs and apps.  When you hit the task manager button you would previously have gotten a list of all the apps running on your phone.  In L this also shows all the Chrome tabs individually.  For someone like me who will often have 15 to 20 tabs running at once this creates quite a cluttered first impression but we will have to see how it ends up.

Leave a Reply