Mobile advertising and social data tied up like ribbons to holiday tech story packages are starting to fall like autumn leaves, but the cloud will partially hover over the spotlight for the first half of the month.
That's because both Google and Amazon, among others, are scheduled to reveal big steps in each of their cloud strategies. The first trickle of news comes from Canonical, the United Kingdom-based open source software platform pusher of Ubuntu.
The move is, perhaps, not a total surprise. Last March, Rubin left the Android group and was replaced by Sundar Pichai. His latest project, as detailed in a lengthy New York Times report in December, was creating robots for a project outside of the company's Google X lab, something that dovetailed with Google's shopping spree of robotics companies. In 2012, there were also rumors abound that Rubin planned to leave for a stealth-mode startup called CloudCar, though they were vehemently denied.
Google’s approach for rolling out the latest version of Android, Lollipop, is a little different. There are the usual things we see every year — a new Nexus phone and a new Nexus tablet — but instead of a big event, the company is posting details in blog posts and on the main Android site. So if you’re tracking the rollout closely, you probably have a sense of what’s new and what’s cool in the OS. If you’re not, though, getting a sense of what Lollipop is actually like and what it actually does isn’t easy.
Luckily, we got a chance to sit down with some Google execs last week to get a walkthrough of the coolest features. We won’t know everything until we actually have a chance to use the final version, but there are some clever additions we saw last week. Here are some of our favorites.
Seeing that Chromebooks are enjoying demand from the education sector, brand vendors such as Dell, Asustek Computer and Lenovo have started becoming aggressive about the market, while Acer, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Samsung Electronics will also launch new products to defend their market shares, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.
Google’s Nest Labs acquired Revolv, a maker of Linux-based home automation devices, and announced five new Nest-compatible devices. including the Pebble.
After Google acquired Nest Labs in January $3.2 billion, placing a stake in the fast-growing home automation business, Nest acquired home surveillance camera maker Dropcam in June for $555 million. Now Nest announced it has acquired another major home automation company in its purchase of Revolv. The acquisition, which was announced with no dollar amount, came shortly after the Boulder, Colo. based company announced compatibility with the Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Protect CO/smoke detector.
Whether it’s because of their very affordable prices or an aversion to Windows 8′s complexity, more and more shoppers are buying Chromebooks. There are some valid reasons to choose a Chromebook over a Windows machine, including a very intuitive interface (it’s largely browser based), a lack of upgrade headaches, and less worrying about malware. And while Chromebooks have limited offline capability, there’s a growing number of apps that work without a Wi-Fi connection.
Case in point: Samsung's new Chromebook 2, announced Friday, which has Intel's Bay Trail M Celeron N2840—not one of Samsung’s own Exynos dual-core ARM chips. Earlier Chromebook 2 versions shipped with ARM processors and will continue to do so, but in a briefing with PCWorld, Samsung product manager David Ng said Chromebooks are quickly trending toward Intel components. "More than 50% of Chromebooks sold these days have Intel processors," Ng said.
Why are Chromebooks growing while, according to NPD and other analysts, Windows PC sales are declining? ABI Research Analyst Stephanie Van Vactor said in a statement that “Consumers are hungry for a product that is cost effective but also provides the versatility and functionality of a laptop. The growth of the Chromebook market demonstrates a niche that is gaining traction among consumers."
Google's Chromebook is a cheap alternative to a more expensive Windows or Mac PC or laptop, but up until recently it lacked any specific administrative oversight tools for enterprise IT. While IT might have liked the price tag, they may have worried about the lack of an integrated tool suite for managing a fleet of Chromebooks. That's changed with release of Chromebook for Work, a new program designed to give IT that control they crave for Chromebooks.