Google has released its own Flipboard type application, titled Google Currents. But unless you’re a yank, you’ll have to wait.
Over the Christmas break, I ventured to the US of A. Whilst there, Google quietly launched Google Currents. The free android app available for download from the Android Market is Google’s next attempt to break into Apple territory.
Google Currents is a newsstand app, allowing you to download and purchase online newspapers. Well so I (and I’m sure many others) thought at first glance. Although offering your typical newsstand type of subscriptions, Google Currents allows virtually any website/content publisher to allow readers to subscribe to their website/blog, and have the latest articles pushed to their subscribers devices.
Now here’s why I’m interested. One, this app (at this stage) isn’t force-fed down your throat. If you’ve updated your iOS device to iOS5, you’ll notice that new (and f#!@*ing annoying) newsstand app. You’ll know which one it is, it’s the only app in the iOS platform that can’t be grouped without jailbreaking your device, or you’re really really good with your fingers.
Two, this app has a “trending” feature, allowing you to see what’s hot at the moment. A bit like the Twitter trending feature, which is a great way to find new content.
Three, Google Currents can pull down RSS feeds, and there’s the free Google Currents Producer, allowing web developers to publish their websites articles to the marketplace, and help customise the look and feel.
Four, and a major plus, is developers can also do some further customisation using CSS if needed.
The only thing I’m a bit disappointed about is Google Currents only being available in the US at the moment. It’s a bit disappointing to see a global company such as Google ‘soft-launching’ their products in the US market first, instead of a global release. I understand why of course, but it does leave a bitter taste. It’s also very annoying of US TV Networks CBS and the Discovery channel posting videos of their shows to their global Facebook Fans, but only allowing people inside the US to actually watch the video. Ignorant of the rest of the world. Wait…why am I complaining? I guess the shoe fits…
Google Currents is available for download from the Android Market and Apple App Store in the US only (at the moment)
Home Automation has been an overly-priced luxury reserved for the rich, famous, or nerds. Now Google is stepping up to finally ditch the old lightswitch.
Hands up who’s seen Iron Man? I gotta say I loved Iron Man, and I especially loved Jarvis (I assume that’s how his name is spelt) the computer which runs the home of Tony Stark. Where we are technologically today, a system should be able to be created that could act almost exactly like Jarvis, turning lights on/off when we forget to, opening blinds etc.
Being the nerd I don’t claim to be, I’ve had a look into home automation technology, and I’ve gotta say, it sucks. There are a couple of home automation systems around. Most are expensive. Unless of course you’re lucky to find some gear on clearance at your local hardware shop.
From what I’ve seen, most of the systems today use your power lines to communicate. This means for each appliance you want to control, you have need to have a “receiver” which acts like a switch, either turning power on or off to the connected devices, by transmitting a signal through your power lines. This works great for lights. I myself have 2 lamps beside my TV, and 2 Sony sub woofers controlled with this technology. An IR receiver module allows me to press “watch movie” on my Harmony remote, and presto the lights, sub woofers and TV all turn on together. I’ve also got it setup so I can turn off the router which is outside when it freezes.
This is using X10 technology. And its pretty slow. The reason being behind the cables transmitting the signals. Power Lines were never meant to carry anything more than power through them, but now we’re seeing home Ethernet connections being run through them, as well as other systems. This is achieved by the use of AC power in homes. Unlike electricity in your car which is run off a direct current (DC) battery, your home 240v lines use Alternating Current (AC). Now I’m no electrician, but from what I can tell on how it works, the X10 sends its signals through your power lines in between the different currents. This is where the signal can get lost, or take some time for the current to switch before it can send out its signal.
The technology has been around for years, but in the same time we’ve watched our mobiles evolve, Facebook and Twitter have been born, and the tech world has changed a lot, except for home automation.
Don’t get me wrong. The current technology can do some pretty cool things. You can hook up light sensors, curtain controls, and even sprinkler systems, all to be controlled wirelessly. And take it one step further, and plug your computer in with a transmitter, and you can have the house open and close blinds in the morning, water your garden every third night (unless it’s rained, it can detect that), and turn off lights that you may have accidentally left on when you go to sleep. If you’re interested, Google HAL Home Automation.
Engadget reported back in May this year of Google’s announcement of Android@Home. Instead of using power lines to communicate, the technology looks like it’s going to use WiFi and perhaps RFID (Near field communication) chips. Googles example showed that lights could be turned on and off based on calendar events, a CD with an RFID chip that would send the track details to a mobile device near it, etc.
Engadget seemed a bit disappointed that Android@Home won’t be using existing home automation standards, including Z-wave. To be honest, I don’t know much about Z-wave, but I’m not against Android@Home having its own standard. I would rather Google be the one to implement this standard, than a garden walled company like Apple.
From my understanding, WiFi controller modules would be placed on your appliances. A control unit (probably your Android mobile, or a PC running some software) will send a signal over your WiFi to power on/off these devices. I think we’ll definitely need to see IPv6 rolled out on these puppies, as a lot of devices would be fighting for IP addresses (even if the addresses were limited to a local subnet).
So I am eagerly awaiting Android@Home. I think there’s definitely a market to be had in home automation, and a lot of powerful things can be done with it. We just need to make it accessible and efficient enough to work for the masses.
Final thought for the day… Isn’t it good to see Google using their powers for good, while Apple claim everyone is copying them, and suing everyone who threatens them. My war on Apple continues…
I’ve always been pretty sus on advertising, and always take everything that’s offered with a grain of salt. After all, the purpose of advertising has one aim, to take the money out of my pocket, and put it into the advertisers.
In the past couple of years, in Australia at least, we’ve seen the introduction of multi-buy specials in our supermarkets. Buy in bulk, and save. Well at least that’s what we’re supposed to think. Everyday we’re bombarded with marketing and special promotions. From the latest specials at the supermarket, to the latest and greatest vehicle technology. But how dumb do companies really think we are?
One thing I’ve come to learn recently, is that information is power. And this is especially true for marketing and advertising. It’s amazing how in this digital age, how free we are to give out our personal interests, what we buy, where we go, all for free to advertisers.
I think a lot of people are naive, or plainly just don’t care. But perhaps if they knew how much a company or advertiser knows about you, they’d be scared. Facebook, something which almost anyone online now uses, is a massive marketing engine. People hear how much money Facebook is worth, but I honestly don’t think people make the connection as to why Facebook is worth so much. Most people would say it’s because everyone uses it. Others would say it’s because the people who created it are smart, and not everyone can create Facebook (true – but not the reason). The fact is Facebook is worth billions if not trillions of dollars because of the information and access to the people that use it (you and me), and the ability for advertisers to market to the people they exactly want to. (continue reading…)Tweet
Apple came back from the brink of fiscal disaster with the iPod, and has been a marketing powerhouse with its newer products ever since. Technology players have tried desperatly to keep up with Apple’s growth and market share, and seem to be banking on 3D technology being the next ‘big thing’.
There’s no doubt about how fast technology is moving. Our mobile phones have replaced buttons with larger touch screens. The T9 predictive text has been replaced with full QWERTY keyboards with Microsoft Word style spell checking capabilites. Virtually every phone sold today has a x mega pixel camera built right into it. There’s definetly no denying that mobile phones have come a long way, and I would personally have to say this is all thanks to Apple and their iPhone.
Apple have been a marketing powerhouse since the release of their iPod music player in 2001. With the company facing fiscal disaster, the iPod saved the company. The companies revolutionizing technology, coupled with the marketing brains and spin, has kept Apple afloat, and one of the technology leaders it is today.