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May 16, 2013

Technology News Briefs — May 16, 2013

Recon Instruments Debuts Computerized Shades

Google Glass is not the only computerized spectacles game in town.

Vancouver, B.C. firm Recon Instruments made its debut at Google’s I/O conference in San Francisco May 15 to show off its own wearable computing device.

Dubbed Recon Jet, the “heads-up display” device will be available later this year. The open platform sunglasses have a built-in, high-resolution display that sends information instantly, to the user’s eye via a microcomputer.

Jet is designed to display activity-related data. For instance, the glasses can tell a jogger how fast she is going and how far she has run as well as relay GPS mapping information. Due to its “gaze detection” technology, the screen turns on only when it is needed, the company said.

The futuristic shades also have a dual core processor, dedicated graphics, Wi-Fi, ANT+, Bluetooth, GPS, HD camera, and a comprehensive suite of sensors.

Jet looks quite a bit different from Glass with its display in the lower right corner of the lens and more substantial body. The device is operated by an optical touch sensor and is safe to wear in any weather, the company said.

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Google Launches Quick Action Buttons

Google is launching quick action buttons for its e-mail service, Gmail, to helps users tackle digital tasks as quickly as possible.

“The buttons appear next to certain types of messages in your inbox and let you take action on an e-mail without ever having to open it,” reads a blog post by Gmail product manager Shalini Agarwal.

“For example, you can RSVP to your friend’s party invitation or rate that restaurant you went to last night all right from the inbox. You’ll be checking things off that to-do list in no time.”

Travelers will also be able to take advantage of the new feature. Flight confirmation e-mails receive special status with all of the travel data displayed at the top of the screen. Users will also be able to check to see if their flight is on time and when their connection leaves without having to scroll through a pile of data.

Gmail’s quick action buttons are rolling out worldwide this week.

Google Believes 900M Android Devices Will be Activated in 2013

Google is predicting 900 million Android devices will be a activated in 2013 — more than double the number activated last year.

Google’s Android and Chrome operations chief Sundar Pichai said the Anroid operating system is on a roll with 100 million Android devices being activated in 2011 and 400 million in 2012.

“The momentum has been breathtaking since then,” Pichai said during Google’s I/O conference in San Francisco May 15.

Google’s prediction may be accurate.

Just this week, Gartner announced the Android operating system accounted for 74.4 percent of the Smartphone market in the first quarter of 2013. Android’s lead over its competitors has continued to widen with nearly 50 percent more Android Smartphones in the market than a year ago.

Vice-president of product Hugo Barra, meanwhile, announced that Google Play has surpassed 48 billion app installations, 2.5 billion of which occurred last month.