This month we take a look at the big stories from the world of technology, an exciting, bizarre and often terrifying insight into our future, and the future of our robot overlords.
Google takes the mobile device back to its building blocks
With the smartphone market seemingly at peak capacity for ‘sleek, integrated technology’, this month Google decided to throw a curveball. Project Ara, Google’s highly anticipated ‘lego-style’ smartphone, always seemed like a bit of a novelty. The idea, to create a smartphone capable of customisation by adding and removing additional hardware features. The project has been brought up a number of times, but all the talk seemed to amount to nothing. Thankfully, after several years of trials, tribulations, and failed demonstrations, Ara looks like it might see the light of day after all.
Rafa Camargo, the lead engineer behind Project Ara, announced at the Google I/O Developer conference that a consumer version of the phone would become available ‘next year’, although when exactly that was is as yet unclear. If Project Ara does make its way to stores next year, it could completely disrupt the current ‘iPhone/Samsung’ style of continually putting out entire devices, where the only way to refurbish your phone was through software updates or a snazzy, albeit fairly superficial, phone case. The idea is to allow a constant of your smartphone through modular attachments. Want a louder sound? Attach some extra speakers to your phone. Want to take a detailed panorama photo? Eject the standard camera and plug in a wide angle lens. There is even talk of a glucometer attachment that allows diabetics to measure their blood sugar levels. In fact, the more you consider the possibilities of a phone like this, the more you begin to appreciate its value. Let’s just hope it can make that 2017 release date.
Google Announce Android N features
It’s been a big year for Google’s mobile operating system Android. After offering a tantalising glimpse into the new OS in March, Google decided to release a host of other initiatives at its annual developer’s conference earlier this month. As the most popular OS in the world, each new Android OS is usually hyped to the point of oversaturation. But Google chose instead to spontaneously announce the latest OS well before its planned release date later in the summer. This was a deliberate, and clever decision on the company’s part, giving developers more time to iron out any issues in time for its official launch.
The new OS comes with a host of new features, some of which the company discussed during the keynote speech. Security, productivity, and performance were the chief focus of the new system, but there was a whole host of specific elements that have set tech tongues wagging. The most anticipated feature by far is Google Assistant, which aims to become ‘your own personal Google’, which grows to understand you in a way that its current digital search assistant can’t. Other features include hugely reduced app size, which allows for rapid installs, a multi-window feature that enables you to look at two different apps on your phone at once and a picture-in-picture option, which allows you to watch videos whilst also browsing another app. Whether
Tetris movie gets green light
Now for the news nobody has been waiting for; the production company behind such classics as ‘Mortal Kombat’ and ‘Mortal Kombat: Annihilation’ has announced their latest contribution to cinema: The Tetris Movie. With its simple, logic driven premise and complete absence of character development, the idea of a Tetris movie has been circulated as a running joke in Hollywood circles for years. But Larry Kasanoff, the man behind the reviled ‘Mortal Kombat’ movies, announced this month that his production company Threshold Global Studios would begin filming the first Tetris film next year. At a budget of $80 million, the film promises to be gloriously indulgent, if nothing else.
For any Tetris fans concerned that the movie may not do justice to the beloved 80s arcade game, fear not. Kasanoff and his production partner Bruno Wu (CEO of China’s Sun Seven Stars Media group) announced that the movie will be the first in a trilogy, so they have three goes to get the ‘sci-fi’ thriller right. Kasanoff justified the decision to Mashable, saying “You’ve gotta ask yourself why Tetris has been so successful for so many years; we’ve thought of a really great science fiction movie out of it. I get pitched video game projects all the time, and we’re very picky about that stuff.” Whether he was picky enough remains to be seen.
Facebook responds to political bias accusations
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, this month met with US conservatives to discuss why the social networking site is said to favour ‘progressive’ views over right-wing news stories. Zuckerberg has previously conceded that the ‘Trending Topics’ section of its site is controlled by humans and not a popularity algorithm as many thought. Earlier this month, a former employee of the company alleged popular conservative stories were suppressed by the ‘Trending Topics’ editors in favour of more ‘progressive’ news stories. The revelation, which was revealed by tech blog Gizmodo, has some serious implications for the way facebook distributes its news.
Although a private company, Facebook’s widespread popularity (with over 1.6 Billion users) means it is now one of the biggest distributors of news in the world. Following the meeting of conservatives at the company’s California headquarters, Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page: “We’ve built Facebook to be a platform for all ideas. Our community’s success depends on everyone feeling comfortable sharing anything they want. It doesn’t make sense for our mission or our business to suppress political content or prevent anyone from seeing what matters most to them.”