It seems like ages since Sergey Brin staged one of the most dramatic product launches of all time at last year's Google I/O, guiding a bemused audience through a cavalcade of extreme antics that saw a prototype Google Glass headset delivered to the Moscone Center courtesy of skydivers, BMX riders and mountain climbers. This week, the very first Explorer Editions of Google Glass shipped to lucky recipients through rather more pedestrian means: UPS. Still, those deliveries were received with no less excitement.
These early units are shipping out in waves, with many of the I/O pre-orderers (including this eager editor) left waiting and watching unboxing videos with envy. The first videos of the early editions in action started hitting YouTube en masse, something we're sure will become increasingly commonplace through the spring. We also finally got the full specs for the thing, including 802.11b/g and Bluetooth connectivity, 16GB of internal storage and a 5-megapixel camera capable of 720p video recording.
Google also unveiled the developer API for the system, enabling eager coders to start crafting their wares, and so too did the MyGlass Android companion app launch in Google Play. Through this, lucky users can customize their new headware to their heart's content before taking to the streets and making the world incredibly jealous -- or, at least, curious.
Last week's big news was Google Fiber coming to Austin, Texas, thus doubling the markets in which the company's ultra-fast internet access is available. This week, another market was announced with rather less fanfare. Provo, Utah is to be lit up next, though nobody's saying exactly when just yet. The deal is still pending some local approvals, but with the mayor enthusiastically on board, it's seemingly secure.
How fast? Try 2 Gbps download speeds and 1 Gbps uploads.
If that has you feeling flush with pride about the state of American internet access, let me take you down a couple of notches with the news that Japanese ISP So-net has announced a fiber-based service called Nuro, supposedly the fastest in the world. How fast? Try 2 Gbps download speeds and 1 Gbps uploads. Humbled? I sure am. Let's move on.
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Microsoft is cooking up a smartwatch with a 1.5-inch touchscreen. Little more is known at this point, but one can certainly expect that Redmond's latest wearables will pack a lot more functionality than the SPOT watches that came before and never quite caught on.
Microsoft is also rumored to be taking a bit of a half-step back from some of the more radical UI tweaks made in Windows 8, starting with the return of the dearly departed Start button. Additionally, Windows 8.1 is said to enable the option to boot directly to the desktop, which would save me at least one click every morning.
Windows 8.1 is said to enable the option to boot directly to the desktop, which would save me at least one click every morning.
HP announced that it would start bundling the Leap Motion controller with a select few of its laptops and desktops, ahead of a broader move to start integrating the gesture-detecting hardware right into future devices. This signals a bright future for hand-waving computing, but with Microsoft's Kinect for Windows also having a strong presence on this nascent scene, I can't help but wonder if these competing technologies will slow each other down on the way to mainstream adoption.
HTC First review
Motorola design chief Jim Wicks sat down with PC Mag this week to talk about the company's next generation of smartphones, and it might come as little surprise that those devices will be breaking with the company's typical Android customizations in favor of a far more stock experience. Additionally, Moto's tight Verizon relationship seems not long for this world, with plans to get more phones on more carriers. When? Sometime in the latter half of 2013.
In this week's Distro, we have the full review of the HTC First, the appropriately named first device to ship with Facebook Home. We also have reviews of the Sony Xperia ZL, a slightly less-covetable cousin to the Z, and Sony's latest ILC camera, the NEX-3N. Ross Rubin explores HP's gradual shift from webOS to Android in Switched On, Joshua Fruhlinger looks at the increasingly overwhelming world of mobile notifications in Modem World and Time's Editor-at-large Harry McCracken sits down for Q&A. It's all here; it's all for you -- and you won't need any special headgear to read it.
This piece originally appeared in Distro #82.
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