Yesterday, Google held a three hour-long keynote at its I/O 2014 developer conference. We posted the run-down so you wouldn’t have to watch the entire thing. While some of the presentation like Cloud Debugging was a little dry (unless you happen to be a developer in the cloud app business), one section stood out: Android Wear. We’ve heard about this Android for smartwatches before of course, but at Google I/O 2014 we saw the system in action and even better, saw some of those amazing Android Wear devices that have been hinted at. The LG G watch in particular got substantial stage time. Android Wear is real, it looks fantastic and it’s coming soon!
I recently took the time to visit Microsoft’s first ever Surface Café on Toronto’s Queen Street West. You can read about the session I attended where DC comic book artist (and the guy who currently draws Batman) Francis Manapul showed how Microsoft’s new tablet has become an integral part of his digital workflow. But I wasn’t just at the Surface Café for demonstrations and to see how the Surface Pro 3 went over with an audience largely comprised of creative professionals. This was my chance to get my hands on a Surface Pro 3 to see if it lives up to Microsoft’s claims of being the tablet that can replace your laptop. Here’s what I thought of it.
Every year Google holds a conference aimed at its developer community. Every year a preview of the latest version of its Android mobile operating system is shown and sometimes there are some surprise appearances —like the public debut of Google Glass at I/O 2012. This year, a wicked fast and new-look Android was revealed (it’s “L” for now, with no sweet-themed name attached), Android Auto was announced for connected cars, Google Fit confirmed the rumours Google is interested in your health, Android Wear showed off awesome new smartwatches from LG and Samsung while Android TV is another crack at conquering your living room. Basically, the theme was Android everywhere. Here’s what you need to know from Google I/O 2014.
Are you the proud owner of an original Galaxy Gear smartwatch, but bummed out that you’re missing out on some of the cool new features of the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, like their standalone music app and S Health sleep tracking? Samsung is listening and its now offering the ability to upgrade the original Galaxy Gear’s operating system from Android to Tizen —the OS powering its latest generation of smartwatches.
Last weekend I spent a few hours at the first-ever Microsoft Surface Café. Held at a hip pop-up venue on Toronto’s trendy Queen Street West, the tagline for the event was: “Where creativity comes together.” The workshop I attended on Saturday was headlined by Francis Manapul —the guy who’s currently drawing Batman. He was onstage drawing Batman … and the Joker … using nothing but a Surface Pro 3. If you happen to be in the Montreal area next weekend, Microsoft is opening a Surface Café in that city starting on June 26 and is currently taking applications to attend the creative seminars. If the Toronto version was any indication, there will be some fascinating sessions (along with free coffee and Surface cookies).
If you had any doubts that Google was serious about home automation (not that there was much room for doubt after the company bought Nest Lab, maker of the Nest Learning Thermostat) then the news out of Mountain View today should convince you. Google is buying Dropcam, the maker of high quality streaming video cameras. Your home is about to get a lot smarter.
Two of the factors driving the premium tablet market today are thinness and display quality. A thinner tablet not only looks sleeker, it’s lighter than others in its class making it easier to hold and to carry. Display quality is a no-brainer (who doesn’t want a better display?) but to this point, most of the competition has been in pixel count. Samsung has been a leader on both fronts but at a recent media event, the company introduced its thinnest tablet ever, the Galaxy Tab S. Besides its credentials as the sveltest tablet out there (yes, it’s even thinner than anything coming out of Cupertino), Samsung has seriously upped the visual ante by incorporating a Super AMOLED display. Pre-order yours today!
Soccer fans across Canada are gearing up for a month-long competition/party as the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off today, with host country Brazil going up against Croatia. If you haven’t seen the cars sporting the window-mounted flags already, high-fived a co-worker wearing the appropriate team jersey, or heard the siren call of the vuvuzela, you soon will. And no, Canada will not be playing (last I checked, we were ranked 100th in the world by FIFA), but our neighbours to the South — ranked 13th— will be there. The problem with the FIFA World Cup is that many of the matches are played during inconvenient times. When you’re at work, for example. You only get so many sick days, so how do you maximize your soccer fix without jeopardizing your career or giving up on things like grocery shopping in favour of being glued to your TV? Look no further than your mobile device.
One of my favourite things about Father’s Day is how it lets me be a kid again. When my kids were younger, this often meant building a LEGO kit together. Now that they’re older and into high tech toys like drones, robotic kits and R/C vehicles, Father’s Day means I get to relive being a kid while playing with gear I find genuinely fascinating —all while bonding with my own kids. If there’s a dad in your life who’s just waiting to unleash his inner child, I’ve put together some high tech toy suggestions from Best Buy’s extensive selection of gear that will have dad (and his kids) pretty happy on Father’s Day.