Googles ride-sharing service in San Francisco

Uber has a new competitor: Google. Google has moved into the ride sharing service in San Francisco. The service will offer commuters a carpooling service where commuters going in the same direction can take a single vehicle.

Commuters can connect to the service using Googles Waze app, which will bring together riders. Waze is a popular app that offers drivers crowd sourcing navigation data about driving conditions such as accidents and traffic jams. These incidents are reported by other drivers into the app to keep others informed about driving conditions. Waze was acquired by Google in 2013.

It should be noted that Google won’t be using its self driving technology, at least for now. According to The Wall Street Journal Google is considering using driver-less cars in the future.

Domino’s to test drone delivery in New Zealand

Domino’s has partnered with Flirtey, a drone company, to launch a commercial drone delivery service in New Zealand.

Domino’s has been given permission by the New Zealand government to start a trial later this year. New aviation rules that came into effect on August 1st last year allow the use of drones or UAVs for recreational and commercial purposes.

The company will use drones to deliver pizzas in cases where its faster to deliver by drone than a ground vehicle and will only deliver around the distance of the store conducting the trial. “During the initial phases of the trial, our drones will operate at approximately 30km/h and at an initial radius of 1.5km from select stores. As we work with Flirtey to expand regulatory approvals, this radius will increase incrementally up to approximately 10km from select stores,” stated the company, according to a Q&A document.

The company stated the way the deliveries will work,”Initially, trained Domino’s team members will provide the customer and order information to Flirtey (including order composition, customer location and where relevant customer phone number), package the order, and then hand the package to Flirtey staff to load the drone. Once this is out of the trial phase and working, we will have trained drone specialist staff within each store.”

The company will offer specials for drone deliveries during the trial and gather data and customer feedback.

If the trial is successful the company plans to extend the delivery method to Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, and The Netherlands.

Microsoft Flow for Android

Microsoft Flow, a workflow management tool, has launched on Android. Flow debuted in April on the web and to iOS. It came about as an interface that lets users integrate two or more cloud services to create workflows such as alerts, data organization, messages, emails, and more.

Screenshot_20160825-144928.pngFlow looks to be a direct competitor to IFTTT and Zapier, though the two have been around longer and offer more functionality. Microsoft Flow is more focused on SharePoint, Office 365, Dynamics CRM, and other business tools and integrating those tools to other services such as Slack, Salesforce, GitHub, and others.

Some uses that were marketed were integrating twitter and automating tweets, getting a text message when you have received an email, copying files from SharePoint to OneDrive, integrating with Dropbox and Instagram, and more.

Users can start with many templates that are online. Once the app is booted it will take users to these templates.

This could help many power users connect to different services or manage data and create streamlined workflows.

Microsoft’s Word Flow Keyboard

Microsoft has come out with an upgraded predictive keyboard app called Word Flow. The app has been available with its initial launch on iOS earlier this spring, though the latest version offers more than intelligent word suggestions and support for one-handed typing. The latest release offers information from the Bing search engine that allows users to look up information on restaurants, news, video, GIFs, and more. GIFs.png

Word Flow started on Windows smartphone and desktop platforms. The app integrated the ability to text via swipe and giving users suggested words to tap on. Its strength though focused on its one-handed typing, which displayed a unique wheel like interface that is accessible from one side of the screen.

Bing ResultsIts 2.0 version of the app now includes support for Bing, GIF, and emoji searches. This was a reaction to Googles Gboard app, which integrated the Google search engine into the keyboard. The update allows users to look up information on the web such as news and weather, and can access the address book to find contacts more easily.

Users can download Microsoft’s Word Flow for free.

Dexta Robotics’ exoskeleton hand the Dexmo

Dexta Robotics is developing next gen technology to allow users to interactive within VR worlds. The company working on an exoskeleton glove called the DexmoGaming.jpg

The technology enables users to interact and bridge the boundaries between VR and reality. It provides force feedback to simulate the action of touching objects in VR. The glove captures hand motion and enables the users to feel the shape, size, and stiffness of the virtual objects, according to the company site. The glove applies inverse force that mimics the objects that are being touched in VR. GraspingRubberDuck (2).JPG

Whats amazing is that users can actually feel the difference between objects from solid objects to soft objects. Dexmo is currently using two Vive controller that are strapped to the users arm and is used for positional tracking.

The company has provided an SDK to allow developers to work with this technology and enhance it.

With the rise of VR and AR new technologies will begin to populate the market to allow users to fully experience these new realities. Its exciting to think what will be available in just two to five years.

Microsoft tests management app called Project Sonoma

Microsoft recently launched a new productivity app called Project Sonoma, which not a lot of people know about.

The company hasn’t made any official announcement about Project Sonoma and quietly released the app on both Google Play and the iTunes App Store. The app is available to download and install, however it is not publicly available. Instead you will see that its currently in a “Private Preview.”

Project Sonoma looks to mainly be used for collaboration and management, though previews show an emphasis put on its team chat. In the apps main screen users will see My Shifts, Requests, and Messages. My Shits allows employees to track their work schedules or shifts. Requests allows employees to ask for schedule changes or swap shifts with other employees. Lastly, Messages offers team chat for employees where they can receive messages or notifications from their managers or chat with other employees.

Not much else is known about the app and Microsoft hasn’t been very vocal about it either. There’s a Project Sonoma website, though it offers no information about the app, aside from allowing users to sign up and join the wait-list.

Android Nougat officially launched today

Google has launched Android N (Nougat), it’s out of beta, and is available for Nexus devices (Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, Nexus Player), the Pixel C tablet and gradually everyone else with an android. Whether or not you had opted into the beta version, users should start to see update notices in the coming weeks. That’s right, it will take a few weeks for everyone to get in on Android N.

Android N beta was launched in March, early this year, which was a surprise for many. The announcement by Google and the beta came hand in hand. Users flocked to installed the beta to test out the latest Android and Google delivered with many rich features and bugs. I had personally used the beta for a few months but had to un-enroll due to bugs that may not have been critical to other users except for myself. The beta itself was worth installing so this final release will have some changes and fixes for optimized use. Google has stated that Nougat will introduce 250 new features, though many may go by unnoticed.

Some new features users will see are changes in the notifications that comes with a new look and the ability to take action such as responding to messages straight from the notification. Nougat also now groups notifications together from the same app for example all Gmail notifications will be grouped together, messages will be grouped together by the specific app. The Quick Settings widget has also been redesigned and users will now be able to move apps around without having to enable developer mode.

MultiTasking.pngOne of the most useful features is the ability to multitask and have 2 apps open at the same time. Users can hold Overview button (the square on the bottom right of the screen) and Android will give the option to select a new app to fit onto the screen. Depending on the phones orientation the apps will be stacked vertically or split horizontally.

Another useful feature is the ability to switch recently used apps by double-tapping the Overview button (again bottom right square).

Nougat promises that devices will boot faster along with faster OS updates. Nougat also promises to improve battery life using Doze mode, which, for Marshmallow, puts your phone into sleep mode when the device is put down or is not moved in a while. For Nougat Doze will work even if the phones moving and will put the phone to sleep if it has not been used in a while. I predict this will be helpful for those users that do not constantly use their phones.

Nougat also has a Data Saver mode that can reduce the amount of background data apps use. Apps will be restricted from downloading large amounts of data, however,  notifications will still be allowed. Daydream, Googles virtual reality platform, will be introduced in Nougat.

There are a lot of new features coming to Android Nougat, again users will likely have to wait to update, though it will definitely be an interesting experience. As of now Nougat looks promising but again users wont know until actually trying it out.

Google to begin phasing out Chrome apps

Google recently noted in a blog post today that Chrome apps is effectively user-less, as active usage numbers were low. After 3 years the company will begin to phase out Chrome apps for all platforms except for Chrome OS.

If you haven’t used Chrome apps they are apps that are essentially similar to smaller apps and have their own windows, however, they require Chrome to be running to work. Apps such as Google Hangouts are often used, Hangouts is one of Googles most popular messaging apps. Google is now looking to clean up its browser and simplify it.

Sometime in the second half of 2017 the Chrome Web Store will no longer display Chrome apps, only those using Chrome OS will have access. By 2018 users wont be able to load Chrome apps on Windows, Mac, or Linux.

As for extensions and themes, they are being given a new focus and may not be affected by this change. Google stated “There are two types of Chrome apps: packaged apps and hosted apps. Today, approximately 1 percent of users on Windows, Mac, and Linux actively use Chrome packaged apps, and most hosted apps are already implemented as regular web apps.”

“For a while there were certain experiences the web couldn’t provide, such as working offline, sending notifications, and connecting to hardware.” Google sees no future for Chrome apps, with their continuous development of an open web, even their pushing for more web integration.  “Developers who can’t fully move their apps to the web can help us prioritize new APIs to help fill the gaps left by Chrome apps.”

 

Uber bought out Otto to achieve self driving goal

Uber has been for a while trying to get their hands onto self driving technology. Early 2015 we saw Uber was working on self driving cars and began testing in Pittsburgh though we haven’t seen much since then. That is until it bought out Otto.

Otto has been developing self driving technology that can be added in to vehicles that do not have the technology. Otto doesn’t make the vehicles, currently it has been working on technology, lidar sensors, that could be fitted on to trucks. Now that the company has been bought out by Uber, the technology can be implemented into the Uber fleet and Uber won’t have to reluctantly make the vehicles. In addition Uber also bought the team behind Otto.

Otto’s team come from big companies such as Tesla, Apple, and Google. Most notably Anthony Levandowski, who worked for Google’s self driving cars during the early stages and Lior Ron, who was the head of the Google Maps.

The acquisition is set to close soon, within a months time, and is worth 1 percent of Uber’s valuation, $618 million. Otto announced the deal earlier today. In an interview with Bloomberg, CEO Travis Kalanick revealed that the company is preparing to add self-driving cars to its fleet of active drivers in Pittsburgh as soon as this month.

Google launches Duo video calling app

Google has launched its anticipated video calling app Duo. Duo was announced at Google I/O in May and has rolled out on Android and iOS 9, worldwide. Screenshot_20160817-112550.png

Duo works by video calling via phone numbers and for now that’s all it does. Most of the app is straightforward and simple, with not a lot of features or functionality. One thing users get is knock knock, which lets the recipient of a video call see the caller. This means you can see them real time of course and will help you understand where they are and if, in some cases, who they are with, and may also help users identify other situations before taking the call.

it’s not connected to Hangouts, Spaces, SMS, or any other Google App. Which might make it more inconvenient. Rather than having everything located in one single app, users now will have to navigate between apps.

Most of the app is straightforward and simple, with not a lot of features or functionality. One thing users get is knock knock, which lets the recipient of a video call see the caller. This means you can see them real time of course and will help you understand where they are and if, in some cases, who they are with, and may also help users identify other situations before taking the call.

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With many competitors such as Facebook Messenger, Skype, Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime, Duo might have a hard time breaking into a developed market. Though a strong side for the app might be its optimization of network connectivity. The app can lower video quality or switch to audio only calling based on the strength of the signal, and can switch between data and Wi-Fi connections mid-call.

On another note, Hangouts will be shifting to enterprise with the coming of Allo. There will be a lot of change coming to Google and its users.