Google’s high-profile, $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, which closed yesterday, has set the tech world abuzz with speculation on Google’s first steps as it enters the hardware business: They’re going to do a 180-revival of Motorola! No, Motorola is doomed! No, they’re going to shutter Android! Google’s second, much quieter acquisition this week, of San Francisco industrial design studio Mike & Maaike, answers most of those questions.
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In September, Aviary launched a free suite of photo-editing tools that could be embedded in any iPhone or Android app, enabling developers to transform their apps essentially into mini-mobile-Photoshops. Today, the New York-based startup unveiled the second version of its software development kit, or SDK, complete with new auto-enhance tools, filters, stickers, a fresh redesign—not to mention plans for monetization.
Tuesday, Google Launched Music Beta, a cloud-based music service that lets you stream all your songs from any device. Well, any Android-based device, at least according to Google. But as we learned after a day of playing, Music Beta can work just as well without Android—and that may just be where Google has a leg up against Apple and iTunes.
Here’s a 3-D visualization of how Google’s Android OS became the world’s most popular smartphone OS in under 3 years.
The initial global view is interesting, but it’s the “closeups” of individual regions (like North America, Europe, and East Asia) that make this video shine. In each region, a few low-level blips flit across the darkness… and then the Motorola Droid launches, and BLAMMO: fireworks!
The pulsing cascade of Android activations in the Droid’s wake never subsides — it’s like watching a dormant global brain suddenly jerk awake. (A metaphor many iOS-hating nerds would appreciate, no doubt.) The animation has some really intelligent design touches, too. The date readout at the bottom clatters in fast-motion like an old-school train schedule, adding a giddy momentum to Android’s inexorable rise. And the little “countdown” in the upper left, cueing you to get ready for major events like that Droid launch, is just genius.
Android beat out Nokia’s Symbian (which is also open-source) as the world’s top mobile OS, and this map raises an interesting question. Even as whole continents seem to burst to Android-ey life, others — notably, Africa — remain mostly dark. Symbian held the top spot for as long as it did in part because it ran on Nokia’s cheap, simple phones — the device of choice in those parts of the world where cell phone networks are often the only technical infrastructure anyone can count on. And those markets are, apparently, still sealed off from major Android adoption. Instead of joining Microsoft to grovel with consumers over Google and Apple’s scraps, should Nokia focus instead on those empty parts of the map where they already dominate — and might actually still have a fighting chance? Or maybe they should just pack it up, milk their cash cows, and go out of business.
So it’s amazing, and it really does seem like a human hand. But could your hand take a beating from a baseball bat and still work fine? DLR’s one can—thanks to those super-strong artificial tendons and clever spring assemblies that let the tendons “stretch”. The way the tendons are arranged (in what’s called an antagonistic manner) also means the “stiffness” or reboundability of each joint can be adjusted in real time by the arm’s computers. This trick even lets it safely catch a fast-moving ball (where previous robot appendages would suffer damage) because the springiness absorbs some of the incoming energy—just as your arm does. The DLR hand can also click its fingers, just for fun.
We admit, the video is a bit disconcerting without sound.
“There’s nothing shipping yet, so I don’t know—we’ll assess [the Android tablets] as they come out. Generally they lack the performance specs, they lack prices, they lack timing, and today, they’re vapor. They are not tablets that we have any concern for.”