Google is looking to take over the Virtual Reality space much in the same way it has dominated the smartphone race with its Android operating system. According to inside reports, Google has a team of engineers working on creating an Android experience that is tailored for virtual reality devices. Google is likely hoping to become the platform and operating system of choice for future virtual reality device.
This doesn’t seem to be a small initiative/pet project either. According to the insider source, there are “tens of engineers” hard at work in bringing this operating system to fruition. With virtual reality advancing quickly and companies investing heavily in hardware development, Google is taking its own strategy on getting a piece of the pie by providing an effective operating system to power the hardware. The question is, which virtual reality headsets will benefit from an Android operating system and will it be able to gain adoption by a large portion of virtual reality hardware makers in the future?
Do we need a VR operating system?
It is challenging to answer this question as there is not a consumer model of virtual reality available to the public. The Oculus Rift has developer kits available, however it is not intended to be a consumer product just yet. Samsung has also released its Samsung Gear headset that is powered by the Galaxy Note 4, however it is titled the “Innovator Edition” as it is also not intended for the mainstream consumer either.
Both of these devices lack a solid user experience and act more as a peripheral to PC/phone applications as opposed to an overall ‘experience.’ Virtual reality is likely to go far beyond the realm of gaming and could become one of the primary ways that we compute on a daily basis. (That is if we can get it to not look so awkward.) As it stands, in the current VR experience you download a compatible application, start it up, and that is when the Oculus Rift begins to function. There is not an effective in-between-applications virtual reality experience. This is where a VR version of Android would come into play, creating a seamless user experience in between apps/games/etc…
Will Android VR gain mainstream adoption by VR hardware makers?
Currently, there are 5 different hardware makers in the virtual reality space: Facebook’s Oculus Rift, Samsung’s Gear VR, Sony’s Project Morpheus, Valve and HTC’s Vive Headset, and Microsoft’s Hololens. Of these 5 hardware makers, really only 2 of them are likely to utilize a virtual reality version of Android.
Sony’s is positioning Project Morpheus as something to be used in tandem with the Playstation eco-system. Playstation already has an operating system that powers its consoles. While some may argue that Sony is using a modified version of Android for its Xperia line of smartphones, Project Morpheus is in a completely different space; of which Sony already has an operating system in place. It’s unlikely that Sony will adopt Android for Project Morpheus.
HTC and Valve’s recently announced Vive VR headset is also an unlikely platform to leverage the Android operating system. Why? Because Valve owns Steam which is one of the most successful PC based software delivery platforms. This is likely one of the driving forces behind a partnership between HTC and Valve, to bring the steam experience to their VR headsets. Having Steam in their back pockets, it’s unlikely that the Hive will need the Android operating system.
The Microsoft Hololens barely fits into the category of Virtual Reality. This device definitely sits in its own category, but does have some virtual reality applications. The Hololens runs on the Windows 10 operating system and would not need the Android operating system. Plus, Microsoft would never use the operating system of one of its biggest competitors.
That leaves us with the Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear virtual reality headsets. Both of these headsets could be prime candidates for an Android operating system that is tailor-made for virtual reality. The Samsung Gear is already powered by an Android phone, so it is extremely likely that this piece of hardware will leverage a VR version of Android.
The future is a little bit cloudier in terms of the Oculus Rift. While the current developers kit is in dire need of an operating system such as Android, Mark Zuckerburg stated the following when announcing their acquiring of Oculus Rift:
After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences.
The keyword in that statement is “Platform.” It sounds as if Facebook has plans that go far beyond simply funding the hardware development of the Oculus Rift. However, Oculus has partnered with Samsung in bringing the Oculus Powered Samsung Gear to the market. This could be indicative that a part of the platform that Facebook wants to build will rely on Google’s VR Android Operating System. Time will tell.
This leaves us with the unknown hardware of the future. With virtual reality growing so quickly, it’s inevitable that other companies will join the mix bringing new hardware. These companies are the unknown variable that will likely dictate the success or failure of Google’s virtual reality version of Android.
Regardless, the time and investments that companies are making in the virtual reality space is exciting. It’s clear that analysts across a myriad of companies are seeing virtual reality as a huge market in the future. While today VR is reserved for us geeks, tomorrow could mark the horizon of mainstream adoption; if these companies play their cards right. Hopefully, with Google in the mix, a successful platform will be developed that gains traction that is not a repeat of the Google Glass of yesterday.
What do you think? Will Android dominate the VR space like they have the smartphone market? Sound off in the comments below.
We have recently seen security threats targeting Apple users, but today’s news affects those in the Android world. Today, the New York Times reported that 4.5 million Americans (since 2013) have been affected by a specific mobile Android malware called, NotCompatible.
This mobile malware was first encountered by Lookout about two years ago. NotCompatible affects smartphones, by infecting legitimate web sites with harmful code. When users visit these websites from their mobile device, they download the code without even knowing about it, also referred to as a “drive-by download.”
In some cases, the attackers send spam from stolen email accounts to the victims, and are now disguising the malicious code as a “security patch” through an email attachment. According to Lookout’s researchers, the malware is causing more than 20,000 infections a day.
One of the intentions of this malicious attack according to Lookout is to create a “botnet”, which is a network of infected devices. Attackers are then renting control of infected mobile devices to buy bulk tickets from places like Ticketmaster, Live Nation, EventShopper, and Craigslist. There are also reports of attackers trying to access WordPress accounts.
Lookout creates security applications for both iOS, and Android smartphones. According to Lookout, they can identify the NotCompatible threat, and keep it from infecting Android Devices for those that have downloaded the lookout app.
This is one of the most concerning smartphone threats we have read about recently due to the amount of possible affected users. Hackers can do just as much damage accessing smartphone as they could if they were to access your home or work computer. With that said, do you think that we will see more attacks surface over the next year? Let us know in the comment sections below.
Have you ever seen people who have a sticky note or some type of cover over their laptop camera? If this is you, you might want to consider finding a camera cover for your smartphone. AVG Virus Lab recently discovered malware that affects the shutdown process of your mobile phone and could possibly access your camera while your phone is supposedly “off.”
Essentially, this malware hijacks the shutdown process of your phone and causes you to believe that the phone is shut down, when in reality the phone is still running. According to AVG’s blog post:
After pressing the power button, you will see the real shutdown animation, and the phone appears off. Although the screen is black, it is still on.While the phone is in this state, the malware can make outgoing calls, take pictures and perform many other tasks without notifying the user.
This vulnerability only affects devices that have been rooted. Rooting your phone gives you direct access to the operating system of a phone, and allows you to change settings that the manufacturer would typically block.
While it is possible that this malware could be received from the Google Play Store, it is more likely that you would receive this type of threat through third-party app stores. This is due to the fact that third-party app store’s security restrictions are more relaxed than Google’s.
AVG goes into great detail on how this malware could possibly work and how it affects your phone. I will admit reading through their article might be a little difficult if you do not have a basic coding background, so don’t get discouraged if it’s difficult to understand. But they do provide some good examples and for us “nerds” it is interesting to know how these threats work behind the scenes.
As time passes, we will continue to see these types of threats since new threats are constantly being created and at times can be difficult to prevent, even if you have an antivirus security program. We suggest that you constantly watch what you are doing and monitor any unusual activity. Don’t press the ad that comes up saying you won a million dollars, because more often than not it’s too good to be true! Also, avoid anything that says “Trojan.” Trust me, it’s not your favorite contraceptive.
With that said, tell us your thoughts? What are your techniques to stay safe in the world on security threats? What best practices do you have? Let us know in the comment section below.
Many Android users are asking themselves, “When will I get the Android 5.0 Lollipop update?” I often ask that same question. For Samsung Galaxy S5 users, we have some promising news.
According to SamMobile, owners of the Samsung%20Galaxy S5, Black 16GB (Verizon Wireless)Samsung Galaxy S5 (LR21T build version) the Android 5.0 Lollipop is now available. Sadly, this is the build version used in Poland which means that the software updates is only available to a very (and I mean very) limited number of users.
Samsung officially say they had released Android 5.0 Lollipop only 31 days after the Google release, which is pretty good for Samsung, since they seem to take longer. At this time it is still not known when the U.S. version of the Galaxy s5 will receive Android 5.0 Lollipop. At this point, any release is a good sign.
LG%20G3, Metallic Black 32GB (AT&T)LG, Motorola%20Moto X – 16GB, Unlocked Phone – US Warranty – WhiteMotorola, HTC%20One M8 – Factory Unlocked 32GB – US Warranty (Gunmetal Grey)HTC, Sony%20Xperia E C1604 Dual-SIM Unlocked Android Phone–U.S. Warranty (Black)Sony, and ASUS%20ZENFONE 6 A601CG 6″ Android 4.3 16GB Dual-SIM Smartphone (Black) – International Version No WarrantyAsus users are also waiting for Android 5.0 and there is no specific timeline as to when the release will be made for each phone manufacture. At this point I am tempted to buy a Nexus phone just to play around with some of the exciting features like their battery saver, device sharing, and the new notification features. To see a full list of features click here.
So….Does the release in Poland provide you with hope that there will be an update in the US soon? Can you taste that sugary lollipop goodness in the mist of air around you? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
Those of you waiting for Android 5.0 Lollipop will need to wait a little longer, as this roll-out has been delayed till November 12 due to some bugs that were reported.
Trevor Johns a Google project team member said: “Android Engineering is aware of an issue affecting Nexus 5 users running Android 5.0 which causes significant “Miscellaneous” battery usage while Wi-Fi is enabled. This appears to be caused by an abnormally high number of IRQ wake up events. We are continuing to investigate this issue.” Although Google did not say that the miscellaneous battery usage bug was the reason for the delay in release, it is probably a large factor.
LG Nexus 5 D820 16GB Unlocked GSM 4G LTE Quad-Core Android Smartphone w/ 5″ True HD IPS+ Multi-Touchscreen – BlackNexus users received a pleasant update, probably much sooner than expected. Today Trevor Johns commented that “this issue has been fixed in the latest builds, and this issue is now considered resolved. Thanks everyone.” With this fix you can expect Android 5.0 Lollipop to be released to LG%20Nexus 5 D820 16GB Unlocked GSM 4G LTE Quad-Core Android Smartphone w/ 5″ True HD IPS+ Multi-Touchscreen – BlackNexus devices mid next week.
Some of the key features in the Android 5.0 Lollipop release will include:
- New ways to control when and how you receive messages – only get interrupted when you want to be
- View and respond to messages directly from your lock screen. Includes the ability to hide sensitive content for these notifications
- For fewer disruptions, turn on Priority mode via your device’s volume button so only certain people and notifications get through. Or schedule recurring downtime like 10pm to 8am when only priority notifications can get through
- With Lollipop, incoming phone calls won’t interrupt what you’re watching or playing. You can choose to answer the call or just keep doing what you’re doing
- Control the notifications triggered by your apps; hide sensitive content and prioritize or turn off the app’s notifications entirely
- More intelligent ranking of notifications based on who they’re from and the type of communication. See all your notifications in one place by tapping the top of the screen
- Power for the long haul
- A battery saver feature which extends device use by up to 90 minutes
- Estimated time left to fully charge is displayed when your device is plugged in
- Estimated time left on your device before you need to charge again can now be found in battery settings
- Keep your stuff safe and sound
- New devices come with encryption automatically turned on to help protect data on lost or stolen devices
- SELinux enforcing for all applications means even better protection against vulnerabilities and malware
- Use Android Smart Lock to secure your phone or tablet by pairing it with a trusted device like your wearable or even your car
- More flexible sharing with family and friends
- Multiple users for phones. If you forget your phone, you still can call any of your friends (or access any of your messages, photos etc.) by simply logging into another Android phone running Lollipop. Also perfect for families who want to share a phone, but not their stuff.
- Guest user for phones and tablets means you can lend your device and not your stuff
- Screen pinning: pin your screen so another user can access just that content without messing with your other stuff
New Quick Settings
- Get to the most frequently used settings with just two swipes down from the top of the screen
- New handy controls like flashlight, hotspot, screen rotation and cast screen controls
- Easier on/off toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and location
- Manually adjust your brightness for certain conditions. Then, adaptive brightness will kick in based on ambient lighting
Runtime and Performance
- A faster, smoother and more powerful computing experience
- ART, an entirely new Android run-time, improves application performance and responsiveness
- Up to 4x performance improvements
- Smoother UI for complex, visually rich applications
- Compacting backgrounded apps and services so you can do more at once
- Support for 64 bit devices, like the Nexus 9, brings desktop class CPUs to Android
- Support for 64-bit SoCs using ARM, x86, and MIPS-based cores
- Shipping 64-bit native apps like Chrome, Gmail, Calendar, Google Play Music, and more
- Pure Java language apps run as 64-bit apps automatically
- Bolder graphics and improved audio, video, and camera capabilities
- Lower latency audio input ensuring that music and communication applications that have strict delay requirements provide an amazing real-time experience
- Multi-channel audio stream mixing means professional audio applications can now mix up to eight channels including 5.1 and 7.1 channels
- USB Audio support means you can plug USB microphones, speakers, and a myriad of other USB audio devices like amplifiers and mixers into your Android device
- OpenGL ES 3.1 and Android extension pack brings Android to the forefront of mobile graphics putting it on par with desktop and console class performance
- A range of new professional photography features for Android Lollipop that let you
- Capture full resolution frames around 30 fps
- Support raw formats like YUV and Bayer RAW
- Control capture settings for the sensor, lens, and flash per individual frame
- Capture metadata like noise models and optical information
- State of the art video technology with support for HEVC to allow for UHD 4K video playback, tunneled video for high quality video playback on Android TV and improved HLS support for streaming
- Support for living room devices
- User interface adapted for the living room
- Less browsing, more watching with personalized recommendations for content like movies and TV shows
- Voice search for Google Play, YouTube, and supported apps so you can just say what you want to see
- Console-style Android gaming on your TV with a gamepad
- Cast your favorite entertainment apps to your big screen with Google Cast support for Android TV devices
That’s a pretty hefty update if you ask me. What do you think about the latest release? Any features you’ve been longing for? Let us know in the comments below
The wait is finally over (from some of us). Google’s latest Android 5.0 Lollipop release is now available for Nexus devices. Those owning aLG%20E960 Google Nexus 4 Unlocked GSM Phone 16GB BlackNexus 4(image still pending), 16GB%20LG GOOGLE NEXUS 5 WHITE D821 FACTORY UNLOCKED 2013 LTE 4G 3G (2G & 3G 800/850/900/(1700/2100)/1900/2100 & 4G LTE 800/850/900/1800/1900/2100/2600) – International Version No WarrantyNexus 5, Nexus%207 from Google (7-Inch, 32 GB, Black) by ASUS (2013) TabletNexus 7, and Google%20Nexus 10 (Wi-Fi only, 32 GB)Nexus 10 can either wait for the update to come out over-the-air (OTA), or you can download the update from Google’s Nexus website.
For those that do not own one of Google’s Nexus devices, below is a list of devices that can expect to get the Android 5.0 Lollipop update. We will continue to update this article as we find more devices that will are expected to receive the Android 5.0 Lollipop update.
Samsung (Expected in December of 2014)
- Galaxy S5
- Galaxy S4
- Galaxy Note 4
- Galaxy Note 3
HTC (Expected within 90 Days of the Software Final Release)
- One M8
- One M7
Motorola (Expected within the coming weeks For Moto X and G Second Generation)
- First and Second Generation Moto X
- First and Second Generation Moto G
- Moto G LTE
- Moto E
- Droid Ultra
- Droid Maxx
- Droid Mini
LG (Expected Early 2015)
Keep it locked to TechSmash.net to know when your device will be next. (If it’s not on the list already. If it is, rejoice!
AMD made the announcement Wednesday at Computex (Tuesday in the US – Computex is held in Taiwan) that they are upping their CPU game in the mainstream notebook and 2-in-1 market with their latest Advanced Processing Unit (APU) codenamed “Carizzo.” This APU boasts huge performance benefits compared to current competition. AMD will be targeting notebooks in the price range of $400 to $700 dollars with this new processor.
Per AMD’s website, below are some details they have shared about the new processor:
AMD’s upcoming A-Series Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) for notebooks and low-power desktops, codenamed “Carrizo,” will deliver a wealth of new, advanced power management technologies, in addition to new “Excavator” x86 CPU cores and a new generation of AMD Radeon™ GPU cores. Using a true System-on-Chip (SoC) design, AMD expects Carrizo to reduce the power consumed by the x86 cores alone by 40 percent, while also providing substantial gains in CPU, graphics, and multimedia performance over the prior generation APU.
This new chip combines the CPU and GPU cores into the same die which AMD boasts huge efficiency gains as a result. This follows suit of the custom X86 CPU GPU combos that AMD created for both the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 gaming consoles. However, Carizzo is the”first fully HSA compliant SOC. To learn more about HSA, click here.
Impressively enough, despite such improvements to its computational and graphical power, it offers an equally energy-efficient solution. According to eWeek, “The chips’ graphics performance and battery life are double that of the current “Kaveri” processors.”
AMD made the decision to create Carizzo after identifying that the needs of mainstream users has shifted. What was once surfing Myspace and email is now shifting to processor intensive 4k video, online gaming, and even video editing in many cases. As a result, the new processor is oriented towards strong graphical computing. According to the Australian, AMD claims the new chipset outdoes the “Intel 5500 graphics found on fifth-generation Core i5 processors”; an incredible feat!
In short, the new processor will help bring zippy and energy-efficient performance back to the mainstream user on budget laptops. This will hopefully prevent the following GIF from ever occurring again due to a slow notebook…
You can read more about Carizzo and view the full presentation on AMD’s website. Excited for the new processor? Let us know in the comments below.
Amazon is the most popular online shopping website used worldwide. To improve their site, Amazon has developed a new machine-learning platform to surface more useful reviews of the products it sells. This new platform should enable consumers to make more educated buying decisions.
Amazon is a one-stop shop for nearly any product. With such a vast number of products, it can be difficult to know what product is the right one to get. When searching for products, users are often rely on the reviews of others to decide if they should buy the product. I have purchased my fair share of Amazon products that died within the first week of use despite a sea of positive user reviews. This is because often sellers inflate their product pages with false reviews.
Although Amazon already has a decent review and rating system, it can be overwhelming at times to read through all the reviews and feel confident enough to make the purchase. An Amazon spokesperson stated:
The system will learn what reviews are most helpful to customers and it improves over time. It’s all meant to make customer reviews more useful.
In April, Amazon sued a handful of fake reviews websites after they found a number of phony reviews. While the amount of phony reviews were small, the potential of losing customer trust was not something Amazon was willing to do. Amazon’s new system will hopefully help address the possibilities of customers viewing phony reviews. Although it will be nearly impossible completely get rid of all phony reviews, this new platform is a step in the right direction.
The new system was implemented on Friday and will most likely be unnoticeable at first. Currently, the system is only being used in the United States, and there is no word on whether the platform will be implemented in other countries in the future.
Being someone who purchases products from Amazon almost weekly, I am excited to see Amazon making improvements to their rating system. Even if I am not purchasing a product from Amazon, I (like any responsible adult) often find myself using their review system to determine the durability/reliability of a product I am about to purchase. There are times where I will spend 30-40 minutes reading through reviews for even the most frivolous of products. Hopefully, Amazon’s new review platform will be able to reduce the amount of time I spend weeding through useless reviews.
What are your thoughts? Do you think the new platform will improve Amazon’s customer review process? Let us know what you think in the comment section below