The consumer electronics giant Pioneer launched its Zypr platform today. With Zypr, the company wants to offer hardware manufacturers and software developers a single, simplified way to access Internet services like Slacker, Yelp, Facebook or Accuweather. The idea behind this project is that connected devices like phones, laptops, cars and TVs take some lead time to develop, but that there is no way to predict which service users will want use in a year or two (or which ones will still be around). With Zypr, Pioneer wants to allow developers to create “future-proof mashups.” As an additional twist, Zypr mostly focuses on voice navigation to access these services.
Just a few minutes after I posted a story about Instapaper’s latest updates yesterday, I received my private beta invite for Spool, a free Instapaper-like tool for the browser, iOS and Android. While Instapaper and Read It Later mostly focus on making articles and other written content available for offline reading on mobile devices, Spool also adds audio and video to the mix. For iOS users, this also means that they can watch Flash-based videos on their devices with Spool that would otherwise be unavailable, as Spool’s backend handles the conversion automatically.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet runs Android, has a nice screen, is fast, cheap ($199), features an innovative browser, and – thanks to being an Android tablet at heart – offers support for thousands of apps out of the box. I doubt, however, that it’s a major threat to the iPad. The tablet manufacturers that should be very worried however, are those who are also in the Android business, including Barnes & Noble with its $249 Nook Color. The reason for this, I think, is Amazon’s superior ecosystem and the low price.
A new report by research and analysis firm Yankee Group is among the first to take a closer look at piracy in the Android ecosystem and finds that most developers there also see piracy as a major problem and often think that Google’s Android Market policies are too lax.
Google today announced that it plans to acquire Motorola Mobility - the Motorola's cellphone and set-top box division - for about $12.5 billion. This is obviously a major deal and suddenly turns Google from a company mostly focused on software into a hardware manufacturer as well. While Google aims to run both businesses separately - and stressed that even Motorola will have to compete for Google's business - the fact that Google's headcount just grew by about 60% shows that this acquisition will have a massive impact on the company in the long run.
Our friends over at Technologizer posted this interested video of a usability study featuring the iPhone 4, a Samsung Focus running Windows Phone 7, a BlackBerry Storm and an HTC Thunderbolt running Android. This study, which as organized by University of Pittsburgh professor Dennis Galletta while teaching a summer course at Harvard, examined how novice users would perform a number of basic phone features like calling, adding contacts and sending a text message.
Starting today, the mobile version of Google Maps that runs in the browser is getting virtually all of the features the desktop version currently offers. There are clickable icons for businesses and transit stations, biking directions and layers, integration with places most of the other features you’ve gotten accustomed to on the desktop.
When it comes to tablets, the iPad is still synonymous with the whole tablet category for most users. This doesn't come as a surprise, though, given that it took Google's partners quite a while to launch competitive hardware and Google's first efforts to launch a tablet version of Android were not up to par with Apple's iOS. For the most part, though, the forthcoming Android 3.1 and 4.0 releases will take care of most of these software issues, however, and with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, Android tablet hardware is now also getting to the point where it's competitive with Apple's iPad line.What is missing, however, is the wide variety of apps that makes Apple's ecosystem so vibrant.
Google just launched a new feature for Google News for smartphones that can display local news happening around you based on your current location. For a while now, Google has offered local sections on its news aggregator for the desktop, but this is the first time it is adding this section to the mobile version of this product as well.
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.