Thursday, 12 January 2012

Google's Schmidt Does the Android Definition Boogie

As Android smartphones sell like hot cakes -- 3.7 million were reportedly activated on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day -- concerns about the fragmentation of the operating system operating system are increasing, and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Chairman Eric Schmidt sought to allay those fears while speaking at a panel at the Consumer Electronics Show Tuesday.
Schmidt reportedly stated that Android is not fragmented, but rather "differentiated."
Further, Google wants to have all Android users employ Android 4.0 aka "Ice Cream Sandwich," Schmidt reportedly stated. However, customers will retain choice because they're not bound to any one manufacturer's hardware.

Facebook Riding Shotgun in New Mercedes Models

Facebook will be among the Internet services that can be accessed in new car models from Mercedes Benz.
Facebook access is just one of the new features in the second generation telematics system, called "Mbrace2," which will begin appearing in new Mercedes models this spring.
Introduced at CES 2012 in Las Vegas Tuesday, Mbrace2 will connect to the Internet through any 3G network and runs apps tailored for it by the car maker. In addition to a Mercedes flavor of Facebook, Mbrace2 offers access to Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Yelp, as well as the viewing of information like stock prices and news.
A problem car makers face when they install software in their models is keeping that software current. With access to the Internet, however, Mercedes can push automatic updates to Mbrace2-enabled vehicles from the cloud

Facebook Subset

Mercedes Mbrace2 offers a version of Facebook tailored for auto use. For example, all tasks that require text input are disabled while the car is moving. Some interaction can be conducted with the social network, however, through canned messages that can be posted with the tap of a screen or twist of a knob.
Information from the auto's navigation system can be automatically posted to Facebook, if a driver desires to do so.
In addition, drivers can access a list of friends near their current location, as well as nearby friends' favorites, such as restaurants.
One of Mercedes' engineering teams based in Palo Alto, Calif., worked with Facebook in putting together its social network app, the carmaker said.
The Facebook app will also play a role in a future telematic feature Mercedes has on the drawing board called "CarTogether." It will allow Mercedes drivers to discover people, like Facebook friends, who need a ride to a common location -- a concert, for instance, or a ball game.
Mercedes sees the kind of impromptu carpooling that CarTogether would foster as a tool that's beneficial not only for the environment, but also for a driver's social health.

Distracted Driving

Although Mercedes' Facebook app appears to be designed to provide minimal distraction to a driver, there are those that don't see it that way.
"Is it really that important for people to know what their Facebook status is that they need to risk their lives over it?" Bill Windsor, associate vice president for consumer safety for theNationwide Mutual Insurance Company, told TechNewsWorld.
"I can't imagine there's any Facebook message or email message or anything else you'd need from the Internet that's that important it would take precedence over focusing when you're driving."

Desire for Comfort

Auto makers, though, don't seem to agree with Windsor's analysis, as the trend in the industry is to pile more and more interfaces into a vehicle. That trend is driven by consumers who want to make the interior of their cars more like a living space than a driving space, according to Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director for global auto at J.D. Power Associates.
"The interior environment is becoming a personalized space for consumers," he told TechNewsWorld. "We spend so much time in our cars these days that we've created a desire that this space to become more comfortable."
Not only do consumers want their cars to be comfortable, but they want them to be less insular from the world around them. "We're seeing more and more of these applications, devices and features that allow us to customize how we want to connect with the outside world while we're in this captive environment," VanNieuwkuyk explained.

Security Ignored?

Distraction may not be the only hazard created by adding electronic creature comforts to a car. It may also be exposing motorists to new risks from the cyberworld, according to Ryan Permeh, principal security architect at McAfee.
Makers of unwired devices think nothing of adding wired capabilities to their products, he explained.
"When you throw a wireless adapter on something, the device still functions as it should, but what you just did is add a huge attack surface to it," he told TechNewsWorld.
"Very rarely do traditional manufacturers of these devices think about the security implications of what they do," he added. 

The Daily To Come Pre-Installed On Verizon Android Devices Starting With Samsung Galaxy

The Daily, News Corp’s tablet news reader app, will no longer be iPad-only. A deal has been struck with Verizon to pre-install an Android version of the app on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 this month, with more Verizon Android devices to receive The Daily in the future. Verizon customers will get week’s free trial of the app before the $4 a week / $40 a year subscription cost kicks in. This distribution deal could significantly increase The Daily’s readership and sales by relieving Android users from having to go out and download it.

Twitter Really, Really Hates Google’s New Google+ Integration

This morning, Google began rolling out a major change to its core search engine that intertwines results from Google+ (and Picasa) with the ‘normal’ algorithmically-generated results we’ve come to expect. There have been plenty of critiques of the news, including John Battelle’s discussion on how this isn’t actually integrating ‘Your World’, as Google calls it, but rather just its own social network.
And now there’s another critic that’s coming out swinging: Twitter.

Is It Time For Computers To Have Their Own .Data Domains?

The web, as we all know, was built for humans. A nice graphical interface to the internet, which has been around much longer. But as the web has grown from a nice way to display information to the largest computing infrastructure on the planet, we need to make the web friendlier for computers once again. Computers don’t want to look at pretty web pages. They want data.

When I Search Your Name, I’m Not Looking For Your Google+ Profile

What most alarms me about today’s “Google Search Plus Your World” announcement is how it will distort name searches. When I Google someone’s name, I’m typically looking for a Wikipedia entry, their Twitter account, a personal website, or an author page on their blog. Today, Google Search handles this well, often returning these as the top results. But *thanks* to Search Plus Your World, soon I’ll see Google+ profiles more prominently even though they’re rarely what I’m looking for.

Pin Drop iPhone App Is Like An Evernote For Location

Pin Drop is a new iPhone app and website which helps people mark locations that matter to them. One or two other startups are trying out this arena, most notable Everplaces, still in private beta, however it feels like the market is wide open for this kind of application which you could also describe as a sort of Evernote for location I think.
Users can drop their own pins or they can take inspiration from the curated lists feature. Each pin can then be assigned to multiple categories allowing users to build up a library of their favourite locations.