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Android O: What You Need To Know

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Rejoice owners of Android phones! Google has released a preview version of Android “O” (I’m personally hoping the final name will be Oreo). With it comes a slew of new features and under the hood updates to the underlying Android code. This preview build is primarily for Android developers but us normal people can download it also. Word of warning however, install at your own risk! This is NOT meant to be used as a “daily driver”. This is a super early release of Android O and there are bound to be a bunch of bugs and instability. I suggest using a separate Android (Nexus or Pixel) phone that you don’t use as your primary phone. Here are the more interesting features:

Notifications

Android O introduces notification channels. This groups notifications together by type and users can control which things are displayed per channel. Some apps can already do that now with Android Nougat but this is the first time that it’s introduced at the operating system level and it allows users to centrally control how granular they want their notifications from the settings menu rather than dig through the app. Another notable addition to notifications is the ability to snooze notifications. After pulling down on the notification, you slowly swipe left or right and reveal a clock icon that lets you snooze the notification for up to 60 minutes.

Keyboard Navigation

Android technically has long supported keyboard support but Android itself is currently still not the best when it comes to using a physical keyboard with it (neither is the Apple iPad). The main problem is that Android and iOS are designed with a software keyboard in mind and many apps rely on various features of software keyboards like autocorrect or emojis. Google said that it’s “focused on building a more reliable, predictable model for ‘arrow’ and ‘tab’ navigation.” This is essential because devices such as the iPad Pro and the recently announced Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 are attempting to market themselves as potential laptop replacements and productivity machines. Enhanced keyboard support in Android would go a long way to making that case that mobile OS’s can be a primary computing device.

Better Bluetooth

Apparently, Sony has been a big contributor to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). According to Ars Technica, Sony has donated its proprietary LDAC codec, which is an alternative to the aging A2DP protocol used within Bluetooth. LDAC has a higher bandwidth and higher quality than A2DP. That probably sounds like a confusing mess of acronyms but basically, headphone manufacturers will now have the ability to implement LDAC into their headphones and automatically take advantage of the higher audio quality that LDAC provides. Speaking of Sony, they were actually mentioned in the official developer blog of contributing “more than 30 feature enhancements including the LDAC codec and 250 bug fixes to Android O”.

Battery Life

One of the biggest frustrations with smartphones is poor battery life. There are few phones are able to squeeze out a day and a half, maybe two, of battery life but the great majority of us have to charge our phones every night. Google is trying to improve battery life in Android O by placing limits on background processes similar to what Apple does with iOS. According to Google, Android O will “put additional limits on what apps can do in the background, in three main areas: implicit broadcasts, background services, and location updates”. Ideally, this move would prevent apps for having a free for all when running in the background and thus provide improvements in battery life.

Other Features

Other notable features for Android O include an option for Picture-In-Picture mode, the ability to modify the location of the navigation buttons at the bottom, adaptive home screen app icons that can change shape depending on the theme, and finally support for wide gamut color for photos. There a bunch of other nerdy under the hood changes that most mainstream consumers won’t notice like new Java Language APIs and improvements to the Android Runtime (ART). Needless to say, Android O seems to be worthy upgrade to Android N. The good thing is that these aren’t even all the full consumer facing features and it doesn’t include any changes to Google specific features such as Google Assistant. We’ll probably find out more about those changes during Google I/O.

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Influencers

Augmented Reality With Microsoft HoloLens And Project Tango

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If you’ve been reading Owner’s Magazine lately, you’ve probably read my article about virtual reality. There I detailed information about the latest VR headsets to make a proper buying decision. However, I intentionally left out augmented reality. Augmented reality, or AR, is different from VR in which VR fully immerses the user inside of another world, AR (also known as mixed reality) superimposes virtual objects onto the real world. Holograms are an example of augmented reality. Popular AR games such as Pokémon Go are also examples of AR where your smartphone camera superimposes the virtual Pokémon on a live video feed making it seem as if the Pokémon were standing in the real world. The technology behind AR is nothing new. Even in today’s world of smartphones, many augmented reality apps were released on iPhone and Android devices back in 2008 and 2009. However, with the seemingly popularity of VR, more attention is also being given to AR solutions. Two of the biggest players in this space are Microsoft and Google.

Microsoft HoloLens

Hololens

One of the more interesting AR devices comes from Microsoft. The HoloLens is a head mounted device that allows the user to view “holograms” through the lenses (hence the term “HoloLens”). The HoloLens features a bevy of sensors such as an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, four IR sensors for mapping the environment, a depth camera, ambient light sensors, 2.4-megapixel front camera, and microphone array. Along with an Intel CPU, Microsoft developed a custom chip called the “Holographic Processing Unit” or HPU. The HPU processes the sensor data as well as hand gestures and voice recognition. The HoloLens runs full Windows 10 and can run Universal Windows Programs. Regarding the hand gestures, there are two main gestures: bloom and tap. Bloom is simply balling your fist up palm facing up, and opening the fingers up like a flower (hence “bloom”). The bloom gesture activates the shell which allows you to access other programs. This is akin to pressing the Windows key on a PC or the Xbox button on the Xbox One. The second gesture is the tap. You aren’t literally tapping the air but it’s more like holding your index finger up then touching your thumb. This is used to select objects and windows. Windows can even be dragged around and pinned to walls or tables. Microsoft isn’t technically marketing this towards consumers yet. This is primarily for developers to create applications although anyone can buy the development kit for a wallet busting $3000.

Project Tango

project tango

Project Tango is the augmented reality platform developed by Google. While the Microsoft HoloLens is an actual headset, Tango goes a more practical route and utilizes a smartphone or tablet form factor for AR. The devices provide the hardware necessities such as various sensors and RGB-IR camera for depth sensing. The Tango software uses the hardware to enable motion tracking and visual recognition of the environment. The IR camera allows Tango to map the environment including distance, sizes, and depth. That information is then stored for future applications to use. This has many practical uses such as navigating through stores, mapping, and visualizing data. For example, you could use Tango to see exactly how a piece of furniture would look in your home before buying it. Google partnered with Lenovo to release the Phab 2 Pro, the first commercially available smartphone with Tango built in. At CES 2017, ASUS announced that it will also be releasing a Tango enabled phone along with Daydream VR.

Which Is The Future? VR vs AR?

There has been some debate over which platform is more viable for the future. Virtual reality completely immerses the user in a new world. These kinds of experiences are better suited to content consumption and entertainment. All three of the major VR platforms (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR) all focus on games as their primary use case although some of them do allow you to watch movies in your own personal theater. At Facebook’s Oculus Connect event back in October, Mark Zuckerburg unveiled a vision for new ways to use VR for social interactions. He used the Oculus Rift to interact with virtual representations of himself and two other colleagues in a totally virtual space. Imagine being able to debate politics and religion with your friends in real time in a virtual world…actually…that may not go so well. However, being able to interact with another person in virtual reality would dramatically change and revolutionize how we connect with our friends and family. The primary drawback with VR is the total disconnect from the real world. VR often involves putting on a somewhat bulky headset and tuning out the world around you. The advantage of AR is that it allows you to interact with virtual objects while still being cognizant of the real world around you. AR also allows more practical, everyday uses. Imagine having a digital map displayed on your windshield on your car that helps you navigate and alerts you to any hazards or speed limits. Imagine virtually placing a couch in your actual living room before buying the couch. Construction workers and architects could use AR to precisely build structures while seeing a virtual representation of the building. Google’s Translate app can already translate text into another language in real time. So which one is the future? I think one of two things will happen. Either AR will eventually become dominant and heavily used in everyday life or there will be a mixture of AR and VR depending on the medium. VR will likely dominate the entertainment space with movies and gaming while AR is what most people will interact with daily. Project Tango will further accelerate the adoption of AR into Android phones. Apple is rumored to working with Carl Zeiss for their own augmented reality solution. History has shown us that once Apple implements a feature, the market generally follows suit. Regardless of what happens, the dream of the Star Trek HoloDeck is slowly coming to fruition.

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Events

Snap Spectacles Drops Vending Machine In Philly

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When you know Snapchat’s Snapbot is going to pop up in your city, you go. That’s exactly what happened today in Philadelphia, just in time for Valentine’s Day! Local non-profit Visit Philly was a big player in getting Snap Spectacles into the City of Brotherly Love.

 

 

Driving into Center City and parking a block away from the destination, we hurried into Dilworth Park and got in line as a drone flew over us documenting the entire thing. Seeing the Snapbot in person is an experience in itself. The bright yellow box with one eye and a smile stood solo in front of the infamous LOVE statue in front of City Hall as eager customers waited patiently in line to get their hands on a pair or two of the Spectacles. Going for $129.99 per pair, the Snapchat glasses ran out in just a few hours. For those who weren’t able to make it, see where they’re popping up next!

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Business

Why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Miami

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HQ2

The unexpected city to be on Amazon’s top 20 short-list is Miami,Florida. Information about the proposal for Amazon has yet to be released. South Florida is currently keeping it a secret, but from the looks of the region, Florida holds the best benefits. Florida has no state income tax, which can save Amazon a lot of money. The founder of Amazon holds personal ties with the city as well. CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos spent some time in the Miami area. He spent his childhood there and was valedictorian of his class at Palmetto High in 1982. Bezos now has the opportunity to return to dominate the corporate scene of the region. Florida may be the perfect choice for Amazon HQ2.

The massive tech company seeks a city with a high population in order to attract employees. Miami holds a population of 453,579 people and is growing. The location is perfect in size and the site holds special features. The area will cover the southern-region for Amazon, but is still remotely close to the East Coast. South Florida is also a pipeline for Amazon to connect with Latin America. This represents a positive, diverse company. The southern location also emphasizes the importance of weather forecast. South Florida embodies the perfect temperature for businesses. There won’t be any delay due to snow or low temperature, so traveling and delivery will hardly get affected.

Amazon is currently looking to adopt 500,000 square feet of space but will then move on to consume a total of 8 million square feet after 2027. South Florida had offered at least eight sites that is located in downtown Miami. Other locations include government buildings, so in total there are five in Miami-Dad, two in Broward, and another in Palm Beach. Florida had planned out this move drastically and is offering various options to fit the taste of Amazon.

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The University of Miami and Florida International University are within the region, along with other colleges. The region attracts a younger scene, which is beneficial to companies seeking employment. Miami also provides the Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport to Amazon for transportation.

“There are a lot of cities that are showing off for Amazon … We took a different approach. We put out a challenge,” Commissioner Russell said. The message of the video, he said: Miami isn’t for everybody and if you are not welcoming of diversity, don’t come. “We believe that will resonate with Amazon because they do embrace a lot of the values that we have in Miami and they will recognize how this is really a jumping off point not only for South America but for Europe and the world.”

Small businesses and agencies within Columbus are able share their professional insight to Amazon now. This is why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Miami:

How will Amazon HQ2 affect the economy of the city?

“Beyond the short-term construction and long-term full-time job direct economic benefits, delivering such a high-visibility endorsement of South Florida as the diverse, international and “enterprise-ready” region that is has become, would create the momentum needed for long-term prosperity. South Florida is about so much more than beaches and cruises and bringing HQ2 would reinforce that message for decades”. -Aaron Lee of The iluma Agency.

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Image From David Balyeat

Amazon is searching for talent in software development and related fields. What is your city’s tech scene like?

“South Florida has seen a vast expansion of tech startups, incubator programs and higher education development. In fact, the 2017 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity recognized South Florida as the leading region for startup activity, ahead of Austin. As the President of the South Florida Chapter of the Entrepreneur’s Organization, I can also attest to our region’s thriving tech and entrepreneurship scene first hand. Our chapter is among the top 10 largest worldwide and continues to grow with mature, scaling businesses as well. Considering that Amazon is much more than just an online store, we also offer one of the few direct backbones to the global internet, right here in Miami. Finally, it’s no accident that several “unicorn” tech startups are based here already, including MagicLeap”. -Aaron Lee of The iluma Agency.

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How will the community welcome Amazon HQ2?

“Not with a parade, but with an unforgettable beach party. Seriously though, there is a unified and aligned vision across three counties and more than 9 million residents who are ready to embrace and support Amazon. We are also a perfect region for Amazon to test new innovations and reach a global audience, not just a domestic one. Our businesses, residents, organizations and local governments have spent years investing in ourselves to prepare for such an opportunity”. -Aaron Lee of The iluma Agency.

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Do you support the major’s proposal? Why, or why not?

“Absolutely. As a business owner and South Florida resident for nearly 4 decades, I have the shared opinion that our area has more of a branding problem for enterprise business, versus a lack of opportunity and infrastructure. We have been ready for Amazon HQ2 since before it was an idea”. -Aaron Lee of The iluma Agency.

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Image From Translating Cuba

Besides financial incentives, what does your city offer?

“South Florida offers a diverse metropolitan culture that combines international influences with a rich history of hard working, but equally fun loving people. We thrive on our diversity and it’s a community that celebrates living. From the arts, sports, entertainment and of course the fabulous weather and beaches, there’s no other part of America like it”. -Aaron Lee of The iluma Agency.

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What is in your city that isn’t found anywhere else?

“I’d have to say that the rich diversity of our people has helped build a community that reflects the global world we live in today. It’s a region that also reflects the nature of Amazon’s vision and scale as well. We are a city of the world, built by people who have come together from all around it, sharing their culture and experiences to create something truly unique”. -Aaron Lee of The iluma Agency.

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If you are an agency from South Florida, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here: https://ownersmagazine.com/need-talk-marketing-pr-agencies-amazon/

*Sponsored by Penji

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