Android P leak says Google improving notch design support, more deeply integrating Assistant

Essential Phone notch design

Android P is expected to be teased at Google I/O later this year, but details of the update have started trickling out today.

Google will reportedly update Android to better utilize notch designs on smartphones, like the one found on the iPhone X and the Essential Phone. Details on Google’s plans are light, but Bloomberg says that Google is hoping this move will get more iPhone owners to consider switching to Android.

Also said to be coming in Android P is deeper Google Assistant integration. Google is considering integrating Assistant into Android’s home screen search bar and allowing developers to integrate Assistant into their third-party apps.

Finally, the name. Each version of Android gets a dessert nickname, with each new version moving one letter down the alphabet. Android 8.0 is Oreo, and internally, Google is referring to Android P as “Pistachio Ice Cream”. Google may opt for a different dessert when it launches Android P to the public, though.

Android P is going to be another major release for Google, and it’ll be interesting to see how the company embraces the notch design that we’ve seen on the iPhone X and Essential Phone. Besides trying to woo iPhone owners over to Android, this move will be a smart one because we’re sure to see more Android phones launch with a notch in the near future, like the Huawei P20. – Latest videos, reviews, articles, news and posts

G Suite launches Gmail Add-ons for integrating popular third-party apps

G Suite update season is fully upon us, so it seems. First, we got the long-awaited material redesign of Google Calendar, which of course is available to everyone, but only once it meets the needs by Google’s most important G-Suite customers. Next up, it’s Gmail’s turn, and although its own makeover is not yet ready, add-ons are being introduced that allow you to integrate third-party apps and increase productivity without needing to leave Google’s email client.

Read More

G Suite launches Gmail Add-ons for integrating popular third-party apps was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

Android Police – Android News, Apps, Games, Phones, Tablets

Ben Heck’s Super Glue Gun: Integrating mechanisms

The super glue gun project is starting to come together. After designing the automatically deploying stand, the team is now combining it with the trigger so that it can deploy when you grab onto it using capacitive touch sensing. Putting together…
Engadget RSS Feed

GM is vertically integrating as it moves deeper into making self-driving cars

Its latest move: Buying 11-person sensor startup Strobe.

General Motors has made another splashy deal in the hope of accelerating its path to producing and deploying fully self-driving cars. The automaker announced today that it bought 11-person sensor startup Strobe, which specializes in developing laser-based sensors called lidars.

The acquisition gives General Motors control over the production and development of a sensor that many believe is critical to the development of autonomous vehicles. And GM is now one of the only carmakers or autonomous vehicle developers that owns a good portion of the major components of the self-driving supply chain: The car itself, the self-driving “brain” (via its 2016 acquisition of Cruise), a key part of the “eyes,” as well as the service layer, a proprietary ride-hail network.

The company wouldn’t divulge any of the financial details and there’s little that’s public about the startup. However, GM had already been cultivating a relationship via an investment from its venture arm, GM Ventures.

Bringing lidar production in-house has become especially important as self-driving players scramble to meet impending deadlines to publicly deploy autonomous vehicles. Today, while there are many companies attempting to meet the demand of the nascent self-driving space, there are few that are mass producing lidars quickly enough and affordably.

As a result, the industry largely relies on one firm, Velodyne. However, paired with the high cost of lidar, Velodyne has also sometimes been slow to meet that high demand, some sources say, leaving companies waiting for the sensors for months.

“Existing commercially available solutions cost tens of thousands of dollars, are bulky and mechanically complex, and lack the performance needed to unlock self-driving operation at higher speeds and in more challenging weather,” Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt wrote in a blog post announcing and explaining the deal. “Strobe’s new chip-scale LIDAR technology will significantly enhance the capabilities of our self-driving cars. But perhaps more importantly, by collapsing the entire sensor down to a single chip, we’ll reduce the cost of each LIDAR on our self-driving cars by 99%.”

Bigger picture: GM is closer to becoming a vertically integrated autonomous vehicle manufacturer, which could help it move faster and build a better self-driving experience and business.

First there was its acquisition of self-driving startup Cruise in 2016. Then the company began experimenting with its own ride-hail network called Cruise Anywhere. And now the company owns the production and development of a critical sensor. (GM also has a partnership with no. 2 U.S. ride-hail player Lyft, but it’s clear the company is keeping its options open.)

The benefits of being vertically integrated are clear:

  • Owning the major parts of the supply chain frees GM from relying too heavily on the production cycles of suppliers.
  • It allows the company to develop the technology to its own custom specs.
  • And it gives GM full control over the revenue that each of those parts bring in — say, for example, if GM decides to license its lidar technology to other companies instead of keeping it proprietary. (For now, GM’s acquisition takes this lidar tech off the market for its rivals.)

Additionally, there are benefits to having each of these components working side by side under one roof. A good example from another industry is how Apple has used its vertical integration of hardware, software and services to make the iPhone a much more cohesive product experience than smartphones running Android software from Google.

GM wouldn’t give any more details on how long it would take to start building the lidar sensors and outfitting its cars with them. But as it recently announced its factories were ready to manufacture cars equipped with the hardware to drive completely autonomously, it appears confident that it will be able to integrate the lidar into those production lines quickly.

GM is hardly the only company increasingly pushing to own more of its supply chain. Alphabet’s self-driving arm Waymo, which hopes to license its self-driving technology to automakers, also has announced it was bringing lidar development in house. Lyft, too, decided to begin developing its own autonomous software. In both cases, this could reduce how much the companies rely on external suppliers, while increasing their value to potential partners.

But the company that comes closest to mirroring GM’s integration is rival electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla — despite that Tesla CEO Elon Musk does not subscribe to the larger industry belief that lidar is a necessary technology for autonomous cars. Tesla’s scale is much smaller than GM’s, but it is manufacturing its own cars and building its autonomous software in-house. Musk has also talked about eventually creating an on-demand network of self-driving Teslas.

Lastly, this acquisition will likely have the same effect on the lidar and sensor industry that GM’s Cruise acquisition did. Backed by Spark Capital, Maven Ventures and others, Cruise’s exit was followed by a flurry of investments into and acquisitions of autonomous software companies. (See: Ford and Argo AI, Uber and Otto._ Since then, investors have been turning their focus toward the other components of autonomous cars, such as sensors.

Recode – All

Navigation app Waze is integrating with Android Auto

Cars are ripe for operating systems, and adding the app could give Google’s solution a boost.

Google’s Waze navigation app is integrating with Android Auto, Google’s hands free smart car operating system. That should make the car operating system more attractive for potential users who are in the market for new cars.

Android Auto has more than 5 million users according to the Google Play store. Its users already have access to Google’s more basic navigation app, Google Maps.

Waze for Android Auto will have basically all the same capabilities on the car dashboard screen as it does on mobile. Drivers will be able to ask the app to help navigate to a selected destination, and Waze will return routes optimized with crowdsourced information on traffic congestion, closures and accidents.

Waze has a bit of a cult following among its users, so connecting it to dashboard screens running Android Auto could make the operating system more attractive to drivers who already use Waze, which could also benefit Android phone sales.

Waze is not yet integrating with Apple CarPlay, though the mobile app works on iPhones.

The new Android Auto version of Waze won’t show ads, the way the mobile app does, but adapting the app to a car operating system means there’s one more type of screen where ads could be shown down the road.

But the car version won’t do everything Waze tools can do on mobile. For example, the Waze carpooling app is not part of the integration. Voice commands will also be limited to telling the car app your destination. Users won’t be able to verbally tell the app about accidents on the road or congestion. That information has to be input manually.

Recode – All