Augemented reality was one of the most overused buzzwords of the year, but for the most part, the applications we saw weren't really augmenting reality. Instead, like Layar and others, they take a phone's camera picture, GPS coordinates and compass heading and provide users with an overlay of nearby sights and shops. For some apps - especially stargazing apps like Star Walk - this is fine, but for most use cases, it's not really useful. Another type of augmented reality (AR) app that's hot right now uses paper markers and replaces them with 3D animation on your phone's screen - even Hallmark is getting in this business now, but it's more of a gimmick than a useful application of AR. The real promise of AR reaches far beyond this, however.
Opera just released the 11th version of its desktop browser for Mac, Windows, FreeBSD and Linux. For a while, Opera was just an also-ran as Firefox and Chrome battled for the speed crown and market share in the browser business. Over the last year or so, however, Opera staged quite a comeback in the desktop arena and version 11 is the current culmination of this work.
Here are the top 5 new features that make Opera 11 worth another look.
Somehow I completely missed the fact that those new blue "shared by" links on Google News results that appeared on my main search results pages a few days were new. Given the pace of the search giant's development cycle, I have to admit that I'm sometimes actually rather confused about what's new and what's been around for a while on Google.
According to the Guardian, serial entrepreneur Jason Calacanis plans to launch a new tech blog in early 2011. With this project, Calacanis is going into direct competition with TechCrunch, the influential Silicon Valley-based blog run by Calacanis's old nemesis Mike Arrington. According to the report, Calacanis plans to hire a small number of editors (possibly four). These writers will have to be free them to research stories deeply and will only have to file one story per week. Calacanis will also host a new startup conference that will challenge TechCrunch's highly successful Disrupt conference.
Apple just released a new version of iTunes for Mac and PC that makes some much-needed changes to how the company integrates its social network Ping into the application. Until now, not only was Ping somewhat hidden in iTunes, but you could also only really interact with it from within the iTunes store and not from within your iTunes library. Unless your friends are compulsive music shoppers, chances are that few of them ever went through the store to mark their favorite songs. Now, however, in the new version of iTunes (10.0.1), you can very easily like songs right from within your music library and you can choose to see a sidebar with the latest activity from your Ping friends while browsing your library. Chances are that this will raise the activity level on Ping, though it remains to be seen if this will be a dramatic change.
Whenever I hear people discussing Microsoft, it usually doesn't take long before somebody mentions that the Redmond-based giant is like a huge oil tanker. It takes a while to turn such a huge company around and get it back on track. When Microsoft stumbled after the dotcom boom and couldn't even produce a viable browser to compete with the open-source offerings of Mozilla, quite a few pundits assumed that the age of Microsoft was about to come to an end (the less said about the disaster that was Windows Vista, the better).
I'm a jaded tech blogger, but Microsoft's HoloLens project is without doubt the most exciting project to come out of Redmond in years. After years of talk about augmented reality, this may be the first project that actually lives up to the hype.