Google, HTC, Oculus, Samsung, Sony create the Global VR Association

Google, HTC, Oculus, Samsung, Sony have come together to create the GVRA, Global Virtual Reality Association.

The virtual reality market has gained much traction in the past few years, with several major companies developing their own or buying out VR startups. Currently the market is valued ar $5.2 billion and expected to reach $162 billion by 2020, according to the IDC.

Having mainly been rivals in the VR/AR domain, the companies have come together to promote the further development and adoption of the technology around the world. The GVRA aims to bring together experts to focus on the best practices for the technology. Currently there are many different standards and many apps are only available for certain platforms and headsets.

In their official statement the organization states:

GVRA’s mission is to promote responsible development and adoption of VR globally with best practices, dialogue across stakeholders, and research. GVRA will be a resource for industry, consumers, and policymakers interested in VR.

 

Google launches Daydream VR Development tools

Google has launched its VR platform Daydream for developers and have released the new Google VR SDK. The kit allows developers to build in VR for devices that are ready for Daydream, it also supports integration with Unity and Unreal game engines.

Daydream was revealed during Google I/O and Google stated that it would create its own virtual reality headset for Daydream in the future. Daydream is integrated within Android 7.0, Nougat. Netflix, Hulu, HBO, CNN, and other apps will be available at launch.

During an announcement today on the Google Developers blog, Google announced Daydream is available to all through its developer website. The developer site provides documentation, tutorials, and sample apps to help new developers.

Google also opened up the Daydream Access Program, which allows only members to push their apps to Google Play.

 

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.”

 

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.

Instant Apps for Android by Google

Mobile apps have become a part of the user experience culture, there’s almost an app for everything and anything. Though to get the apps you have to search them, download them, and then install them. This can be daunting for some but mostly is an already convenient approach, but Google wants to take it a step further and redefine what apps are and how users interact with them. Googles solution Instant Apps.

Instant Apps were announced today during Google I/O developer conference. Its a new Android feature that will allow users to use native apps instantly. This new feature allows developers to partition their apps into small parts that are able to start within seconds. The apps are meant to also replace mobile sites. Google demonstrated this by giving an example of paying for parking. You place your phone near the parking meter, the phones built-in NFC chip read the info, and the native app pops up speedily. If you close the instant app it disappears and stays in the cache for a few hours. For developers Instant Apps are built using existing apps, so users can download only necessary parts of the app instead of the entire app. Developers will need to use Android M or Android N permissions to make these apps and they cannot exceed 4MB.

One interesting thing is that Instant Apps will work on Android Jelly Bean devices and up, it’s not specifically for Android N. Google wants most of their users to be able to take advantage of Instant Apps. They are also compatible with Android app links to be able to launch Instant Apps through existing links, using Google Play services. So those devices that don’t have Google Play wont be able to use Instant Apps.

 

 

Star Wars VR coming to HTC Vive

Lucasfilm and Industrial Light and Magic have worked together to bring a part of Star Wars into virtual reality technology.

Trials on Tatooine, the latest project, uses the HTC Vive headset as its medium for virtual reality. In December ILMxLab released Jakku Spy for Google Cardboard, which was mostly a viewing experience. Trials on Tatooine will allow for a more immersive experience and the potential use of light sabers with the full motion tracking handheld controllers.

There’s no word when exactly Trials on Tatooine will be available to the public. ILMxLab is currently doing private demos at the Game Developers Conference (GDC).

In the meantime you can try out Googles Lightsaber Escape, a web game collaboration between Google, Disney, Lucasfilm, and Industrial Light and Magic. Lightsaber Escape can be played through the games website. All you have to do is download an app for your phone, connect it to the laptop or PC browser game, and start swinging away your phone which will also move the lightsaber. It might take some time and patience to get a hang of the game but its worth a try.

Google’s Project Skybender wants to deliver 5G internet using solar powered drones

Remember Project Loon? Its a project, part of Google Access, that aims to give internet to areas around the world that do not have internet using balloons that float near space. Now, according to a report from The Guardian, Google has a new project called Project Skybender, no not Airbender.

Project Skybender plans to use solar drones to deliver 5G internet. Currently Google is testing in New Mexico with a goal of delivering 5G incredibly fast internet connection around the world. The company is using a Centaur Optionally Piloted Aircraft and a solar powered Titan Drone made by Titan Aerospace for testing. They are also reportedly renting Virgin Galactic hangers and paying $300,000 to Spaceport America for its own flight control center. The company has received FCC permission to test their drones until July.

Google will also use millimeter wave technology, which delivers higher speeds than the current 4G technology that’s widely in use. Millimeter technology looks to be the future of high speed data transmission technology. While millimeter waves are believed to have 40 times faster service the only issue with 5G is that it’s not far reaching and can only travel a short distance. The company is working to solve this issue.

Google Fiber to provide free internet service for low income residents in select cities.

Google has plans to provide free internet access to low income Americans in affordable housing and its not coming in megabit, its gigabit speed.

This is a very important step in providing what should be considered a necessary 21st century utility to people who cannot afford it. Though it should be noted that Google has already been providing free 5 Mbps internet in public housing.

If you may have not known Google Fiber is is Google’s broadband internet and cable service, with a whopping 1 gigabit speed. Currently there are only a select few locations with Fiber infrastructure: Atlanta, Austin< Charlotte, Kansas City, Nashville, Provo, Raleigh-Durham, Salt Lake City, and San Antonio. They have plans to expand their services to other cities across the country. But due to the cost and sometimes the political scene, it is difficult to expand quickly.

As for the free internet the company is working with the white house and local government, residents in parts of Kansas city, Mo., Kansas City, Kan. will be the first to get a free subscription to 1,000 Mbps Google Fiber service. At that speed a user can download an HD Movie in about 7 seconds. If you want to personally check this claim head over to the Google Fiber website, where they have a “race” comparing speeds and the time it takes to download a file.

Google Fiber

“We’ve wired all 100 homes with Fiber, and families can sign up today to access the Internet at up to 1,000Mbps,” the Google Fiber announcement said. “Across Kansas City, we’re working with local affordable housing providers to connect up to nine properties, reaching more than 1,300 families in the metro area.”

They also said that there are plans to bring free internet to low income families to cities where the service, Google Fiber, currently operates. Residents also do not need to pay for anything, including any equipment or installation fees.

Google is known to do these kinds of things. Currently they are working with groups such as Connecting for Good to offer discounted rates for refurbishes devices such as laptops, tablets, and phones. In coordination with ConnectHome, a program headed by President Obama, Google will also provide computer labs and digital literacy programming for lower grade students.

Having internet is a must as it provides important things such as access to information and the ability to connect with others, these should not be privileges to only those that can afford it.