Google teases modular phone with Project Ara

Heard about the Google’s Project Ara, where you build your own phone like we used to build our own computers a decade ago?

The video is very promising. Now only hoping, this is as cool as it shows in the video, comes to market soon and also affordable!

Also it will be very interesting to see how the Android OEM’s react to this, especially knowing that Google will allow many small players to make compatible modules, biting into the already very tight android manufacturers market.

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Breaking: Google buys Nest, maker of Smart Thermostat

Breaking news of the day, probably for the week is Google buying Nest Labs, maker of Smart and Stylish Thermostat and CO detector. Deal was worth $3.2 Billion!

Before this, I was a already proud owner of Nest thermostat, probably one of the few gadgets that I get excited about that Google didn’t contribute to! Now with this, hoping to get more integration with Google Services soon!

Google will add this to their portfolio of Home Automation and Energy management. Way to go!

You are an active user of Google+. You just don’t know that!

Google+. Google’s platform for user engagement. Not totally intended to be competing with Facebook or Twitter. But now said to be giving them run for their money with more than 500 Million monthly active users. Google is very proud about this number. But how far is this true? How far does these numbers reflect reality? Read on.

What does an active user mean? This is pretty straightforward for Facebook and Twitter as the users have to log in explicitly (mostly) and do something with their status, photos, posts, comments etc. Definitely can be called as active users.

But Google+ has its shortcuts when counting its active users. If you are a Gmail user, Android phone user or YouTube user, Google+ is there in these places and more. Your app reviews in your Android phone are counted as Google+ activity, so are your actions on YouTube.

Worse, even dismissing any notifications in your profile counts as an active user. To take this even worse, some metrics count Gmail users as active users of Google+.

All these may totally seem unfair. But think about this and read the first line of the blog again. Google+ is supposed to be a platform for user engagement. All the above ones are user engagements. So you cannot sue Google on their numbers. But you just have to take them with a pinch of salt.

Google+ has a huge potential. No doubt. It has millions of professionals interacting and sharing various content from photography to technology. Trust me, I get my daily dose of Technology news from there! But it is going to be an uphill task for it to bring in the Facebook mass; but it doesn’t have to do that. Google+ is good as is for what it is created for!

Process how Android devices get (or don’t get) updated to latest OS

This is the process how the phone manufacturers, or HTC to the least update your devices to latest Android version. Simply said, why on earth is your update to latest and greatest Android version always delayed or most of the times never happens.

HTC recently released a nice dashboard (click here) and this below infographic flowchart to depict what does it really take to push an Android OS update. This covers Carrier Models (like T-Mobile HTC One), International / Dev Models (like the Unlocked ones that often surface in eBay) and Google Play Editions.

This is a good move where the Manufacturers feel the need to differentiate themselves in supporting their devices and providing timely OS upgrade. They now do have to compete with Google’s own Motorola who has set a very high benchmark (click here)!

So next time if your carrier device is not getting updated, blame the damn carrier and move to the one who takes this as a priority!

Google made my job much easy now, with Google Tips!

I mean my blogging job! I started to blog for bringing out interesting stuff about Android and Google Products in general. Today, Google is joining me in unveiling many of its hidden gems out of its numerous products and services!

Here comes, Google Tips (link).

This gives bits of helpful information for quick reading. Read only what you care about. Has interesting filter criteria for you to be focused. Obviously this is not supposed to be a user manual for each of its product, but very good for beginners and intermediate users!

Way to go Google!

How Google Now enhances your Travel experience.

For the uninitiated, Google Now is Google’s way of telling you what you may need to know before even you ask for it. Not as scary it sounds though, but it is neat!

It particularly comes in handy, when you travel, be it local or international. Ok, how does it work? Read on…

Weeks or Days ahead of travel:

  • (As long as your Gmail has the Itinerary), searching for “my flights” brings all your flight bookings for the near future.
  • (As long as your Gmail has the reservation), searching for “my reservations” brings all your hotel bookings for the near future.
  • Eliminated need for scrambling emails and print-outs to get the exact flight time or hotel address.

Couple of days ahead of travel:

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  • Weather report for the travel destination comes up automatically. You don’t need to ask for it. This lets to plan for your cozy travel!

A day ahead or on the day of travel:

  • The flight status shows up automatically. If you don’t see it simply ask “What is my flight status?” and the status is brought up. No need for remembering flight number or itinerary details.
  • Directions to airport with travel time shows up.
  • Hotel check-in alert shows up automatically.
  • Both the above brings in phone numbers of customer care for convenience. So any change just one click call away.
  • (As long as flight is checked-in online and a PDF is emailed to Gmail) Even the boarding pass shows up in Google Now. Skip the paper boarding pass or even a dedicated airline app!
  • As soon as you reach the destination, navigation to the hotel shows up. Again, automatically.

During the Travel days:

  • Anytime you are out of the hotel, navigation back to the hotel is shown!
  • Nearby places of attractions and events show up.
  • Time at home shows up, if there is a time difference.
  • Currency conversion chart shows up, if the currency is different in destination.
  • Nearby restaurants shows up with various options for categorization and filtering.

Trip conclusion:

  • Weather back home is brought back automatically.
  • Check-out reminder is made.
  • Return flight status is displayed.
  • Directions to airport with travel time shows up.

Back home later:

Just ask for “my photos at <destination>” in Google Search and all your pictures taken at your travel destination comes up, privately only to you. Of course this assumes the picture were geo-tagged and uploaded to Google Plus or Picasa Web.

With so many options to pamper you, you will not go wrong while using it. Why don’t you give it a fair try next time you travel!