In typical Apple fashion, the company has remained tight-lipped over its new technology until right before its release. Apple recently made an announcement about CarPlay, the long awaited in-dash technology that had been known to many for the last year as iOS in the Car. The company recently released a number of details of what CarPlay will do, and also announced that the first CarPlay enabled cars will be available to the public in a matter of weeks.
CarPlay confirms that the next big battle that Apple and Google will engage in will be over the car interface. While right now, that technology may only control media and make phone calls, car technology is on the verge of some major changes, and the interface will become very important. Here's a look at Apple's first major salvo in this battle in: What is Apple CarPlay?
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We live in our bubble of technology in the western world; many people don't realize that the majority of the global population has never had an Internet connection. Many of the frivolous uses of the internet may be far from essential, but the Internet can also serve as a channel for economic development. Knowledge and data traveling to people can empower them and offer opportunities for employment that were previously impossible.
Some of the largest tech companies in the world recognize the power held in this technology, and recently Mark Zuckerberg took some concrete steps to unleash this power by creating Internet.org. It is a group of companies with a very ambitious goal, and I underscore the importance of its mission in my article detailing: What is Internet.org?
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As we've seen with the massive success of the Nest Thermostat, there are a number of areas of our life where technology interfaces need improvement. Few are as integral to our everyday lives as car dashboards. While in-dash technology is developing, there are many who wish car companies would just let a company like Apple or Google worry about dashboard interfaces, so automakers could just focus on the car.
Well, it looks like this wish has been granted. Both Google and Apple have entered into projects aimed at integrating their technology more closely with cars. Google is taking a similar approach to their rollout of Android by forming the Open Automotive Alliance. Will the results be the same as that of iPhones vs Android phones? Time will tell.
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I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention Facebook's gigantic acquisition of WhatsApp. This was a move that had been rumored for some time, as my article in April attests. Big tech companies have a hard time staying on top. This seems particularly true of social networks: just ask MySpace and Friendster. Facebook seems to be employing a novel approach; rather than frantically innovating from within and hoping teens continue to find them relevant, Facebook has looked for would-be competitors, and acquired them before they got too big.
Facebook's acquisition strategy is very telling of the company's priorities, and for a company that's still relatively young, it's made a lot of acquisitions. I look in greater detail at what these acquisitions tell us in: Facebook Acquisitions.
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It's been rumored for some time, but a number of reports indicate that whatever it is that Amazon is working on, it's set for a March release. Some believe it is a set top box in the same vein as Roku, while others think it will be a full featured game console. Either way it will create some waves in the tech industry.
There do seem to be some hints that this Amazon box will offer a more full-featured gaming experience. The idea of another large firm competing with Xbox, and PS4 is intriguing, but game consoles are a tough market. I lay out some of the facts of this new device in my article on: The Amazon Game Console.
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Things seem relatively quiet these days with respect to Google's driverless car. There have been hints that the company is entering into agreements to provide driverless cars as taxis, possibly through the Google Ventures funded service Uber, but as yet, the only Google cars on the road appear to still be experimental.
Google isn't the only company that is pushing technology forward in this space. Projects like Google's car are driven by a concept called SLAM technology: short for simultaneous localization and mapping. Not only does SLAM technology have major implications on the transportation technology of the future, but it could potentially have an impact in the world of augmented reality. I provide an overview of these ideas in: What is SLAM Technology?
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Technology has eased our lives in many ways, but an unwanted side effect is that it has made our working life more abstract. In the highly technical knowledge work that will power the economy of the future, physical activity seems to be scarce. The sedentary nature of many jobs may be a big contributing factor to the plummeting health of our society.
There is some research and development being devoted to a different model of tech interaction, one that recognizes people's needs to operate in the physical world. Tangible user interfaces outline different ways that users can integrate with tech physically: holding, grabbing, pulling, and fully body movement. It may become an important aspect of tech design as technology becomes an increasing part of our lives. I provide an outline of this trend in my article on Tangible User Interfaces.
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Many businesses have investigated the possibility of online document collaboration. At the time, some found it little more than a novelty, and for others, tools like Google Docs have become a critical component of their business. But the field of online collaboration tools has grown over the years, and while Google remains a big name in this area, there are a number of other companies both big and small in the mix.
In fact, Microsoft, the main purveyor of office software, is part of this market. With increasingly mobile teams in many businesses, and collaboration becoming the norm, an online collaboration tool may be worth revisiting. I run down some of the main contenders in: Online Collaborative Editing Tools.
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As technology has progressed, user interfaces have undergone a massive change. New products like Siri, Apple's voice interface, and Google Glass have even removed the necessity of the popular multi-touch screen. Over time, it appears that tech interfaces are moving away from specialized abstractions and input devices, and towards the natural ways that humans interact. At some point, it may even be able to read our thoughts.
Whether the appearance of mind-reading tech will be sooner or later is debatable, but the progress towards more natural interfaces is certain. I go into further detail on this phenomenon in my article on Natural User Interfaces.
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Big data has been a hot subject in the tech world for some time. While more and more computing power is being allocated to managing the rising tide of data, there is still the problem of our primitive human brains when it comes to creating meaning.
Fortunately a number of companies have used web technologies to provide tools for visualizing data. Creating compelling presentations of data can be a challenge, but here are some options that may ease this difficulty; check out 5 Data Visualization Tools for the Web.
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