The new TAG Heuer smartwatch is just a coupon for a TAG Heuer mechanical watch

There’s nothing essentially new or different in the new $1,500 TAG Heuer Connected Watch just launched yesterday. It is based on the same Android Wear OS other smartwatches are using, and it has similar specs also (I’m curious about the Intel processor, though). No GPS, no heart-rate monitor, water resistant -but not waterproof.

It doens’t look too much like a luxury smartwatch besides the maker logos, and in fact it is surprinsingly light on the wrist according to the first early reviewers. So what’s the raison d’être on this smartwatch?

It seems it just gives a chance to TAG Heuer fans to test what a smartwatch can do differently, but the Swiss maker dismiss its usefulness in the long run.

Technology becomes obsolete every two, three, five, seven years, so it cannot be eternal“, says Jean-Claude Biver, CEO at this firm, who promises this users that once the warranty expires that device will still be worthy: you will be able to return it in, trade another $1,500, and get a brand new TAG Heuer Carrera traditional watch (prices vary).

So basically you’re leasing this smartwatch and use it as a coupon for a mechanical model that you’ll actually buy?

Clever, TAG Heuer, very clever.

Source: TAG Heuer, Google Release First Swiss Luxury Smartwatch: All the Details

Google plans on designing its own chips: easier said than done

Amir Efrati on The Information has revealed the conversation between Google and some chip makers about “developing chips based on Google’s own preferred designs“.

The idea here is says Efrati, to “bring more uniformity” and “be more competitive with Apple’s phones at the high end of the market

sundar

I have some questions for Google. For example, if they design special chips for their Android phones, will they release those designs to their partners? Or will they keep those designs for themselves? Qualcomm, MediaTek and others won’t be happy about that, and even if Google becomes a hardware company the challenges are huge if they don’t want to be perceived as counterproductive to their partners.

Designing chips is no small feat either. Apple has recruited a lot of talent there in the past few years in order to accomplish what they have today, and I suspect Google is absolutely dependent on companies such as Qualcomm in order to design those chips. They simply don’t have the resources to do that by themselves. Efrati confirms this:

In the discussions, which occurred this fall, Google representatives put forward designs of chips it was interested in co-developing, including a phone’s main processor

Designing a chip and making it available to all phone makers would be really interesting. Hopefully that will make fragmentation not such a big problem in the future, and in fact I see this having some part to play in that hypothetical merger of Android and Chrome OS, which for sure will benefit too of special chips designed by Google. Hardware & Software going hand in hand is a safe bet here.

Apple was right, it seems.

Google as a hardware company

nexus

Walt Mossberg has published a column in The Verge in which there’s a little mistake just in the headline. When he says ‘It’s time for Google to make its own hardware‘ he forgets Google is already a hardware maker.

It has shown that for example with its Chromecast devices, but above all with the two Chromebook Pixel models it released in February 2013 and March 2015. Those beautiful machines only had -still have- one big problem: they were -still are- based on Chrome OS, which was -still is- no match for a machine so powerful and well designed.

But I agree with him deeply in the rest of the article: Google should really become a mobile maker the same way Apple is since 2007 and Microsoft has started to be since the acquisition of Nokia in late 2013.

In fact, when I wrote about the useless Nexus I critiziced the new models (5X, 6P)  because they were competing with Google’s traditional partners without adding that much differentiation on them. As I wrote back the, “it seems Google makes this smartphones just because it can”.

But they can do better. They should do better. The Nexus family should be a testimony of what Android can offer. The should show the way, be the goal, become the model to follow. And that can only be done if Google designs not only the software but the hardware that runs that software.

The five reasons Mossberg gives to defend that role of Google as a mobile hardware company are relevant, and as he adds, that hardware “should be targetd  specific areas like hero phones and those for people in low-income countries“.

I see Google becoming that kind of mobile maker. And I see them doing that because that’s the only way the future Android-Chrome OS merger will be able to show what it’s capable of. Google can’t rely on its partners to demonstrate that. Apple has not done it. Microsoft has not done it (with Windows 10). Google shouldn’t do it.

Source: Mossberg: It’s time for Google to make its own hardware | The Verge

Chrome OS won’t phase out, but Android merger seems inevitable

chrome

Four days. Google’s answer to WSJ report comes a little late. As if the people at Google themselves needed to meet and focus on the official statement.

Strangely enough that statement doesn’t deny what the Journal discovered, and they confirm that they have “been working on ways to bring together the best of both operating systems“. That doesn’t mean that they will phase out Chrome OS, though, they point out.

That’s exactly what one would expect from Google: millions of users have bought a Chromebook and are working (and studying) with those computers, so it wouldn’t be wise to abandon Chrome OS all of a sudden.

Which doesn’t mean that the focus will change: if the merge happens -and everything points to it- Chrome OS will have less and less relevance, and although the updates will come for five years as promised on each new Chrome OS device launched, I suspect they will be minor.

In fact, I’m pretty sure those devices will be among the first to support that new unified OS. I would do that if I were Google, and I guess that that will make current users not angry about the path to Chrome OS extinction.

Source: Google Chrome Blog: Chrome OS is here to stay

Google merging Chrome OS and Android: Apple is next

The Post-PC is more of a PC-Reborn era.  And it is so because the PC isn’t that big box under the table anymore. Or even that laptop, Ultrabook or convertible you’ve spent some money on lately.

No. Your PC is your smartphone. And if it’s not yet, it will be that soon enough.

The dream

That’s what Canonical envisioned almost four years ago. On October 31st, 2011 Mark Shuttleworth published this on his personal blog:

This was Canonical's dream. They're still sleeping though.
This was Canonical’s dream. They’re still sleeping though.

By 14.04 LTS Ubuntu will power tablets, phones, TVs and smart screens from the car to the office kitchen, and it will connect those devices cleanly and seamlessly to the desktop, the server and the cloud.

The idea was clear: your smartphone would become your PC, and the experience on that device would adapt to your needs and resources. But Canonical wasn’t able to deliver that promise. It even tried to launch Ubuntu Edge, the “convergent phone” that would provide all the necessary to get a responsive experience. That project had to be cancelled due to insufficient funding on Indiegogo, where nevertheless it was a record project.

Thankfully, Microsoft stole the idea

Microsoft took up the torch, and the company led now by Satya Nadella is finally delivering that idea. We saw the result with the new Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL, the first phones that thanks to Continuum, the Microsoft Display Dock and that ‘One Windows’ paradigm are able to transform that experience.

Your smartphone is finally yourPC.
Your smartphone is finally your PC.

You can finally use those smartphones as a smartphones or as PCs. It depends on what you need, and on what your resources are. A display, a keyboard and a mouse are enough to provide that desktop experience running from a smartphone.

Convergence is here, and it seems unstoppable.

Google agrees: this is the future

Google has been pretty clear in the past about the relevance of Android and Chrome OS. Both made sense for the company, and both covered different users. That was the official message.

pixelc
Google Pixel C was a surprise: a tablet for productive work. Everyone jump on board!

There was other goals inside the company, of course. As many predicted, maintaining two code bases when one of them is clearly not getting much traction seems not a good idea. Yesterday The Wall Street Journal revealed how Google would ‘fold’ Chrome OS into Android. There has been some updates on that report, and it seems Chrome OS will continue to exist after the release of that combination of both projects.

Chrome OS, tells The Verge, is not being “killed” and Re/code explains how “Starting next year, the company will work with partners to build personal computers that run on Android“. It seems the path to Google’s convergence will be a little slower, with two products coexisting -Android with Chrome OS features, and the traditional Chrome OS-, but the end seems clear: only Android (maybe with a different name) will survive.

Apple: merging iOS with OS X seems mandatory now

The discourse about convergence has also been unequivocal at Apple. Tim Cook recently explained how iOS and OS X had both sense for different scenarios:

ipadpro
And again, productivity shows the way. Your tablet wants to be your laptop. And it wants to be that with iOS. Weird?

We don’t believe in having one operating system for PC and mobile. These operating systems do different things,” said Cook. “We have no intention to blend them.

But again, this is the official discourse. There are to many hints to dismiss a possible merger between iOS and OS X:

  1. OS X has received minimal updates on the last two years, and in most cases there has been an ‘ios-ification of OS X‘. Continuity and Handoff were nice, but not specially ambitious.
  2. Apple’s ARM SoCs are incredibly powerful: they even beat the new MacBook, and that could led to that promising Apple laptop based on on an ARM processor (Apple A10?) and, of course, iOS.
  3. The new iPad Pro proves that Microsoft’s idea with their Surface is the one that can really save tablets. And it’s based in iOS. Not OS X. iOS.
  4. The Mac division is still important, but the iPhone is what makes Apple successful. Compare 63% revenue from iPhones to 13% revenue from Macs. If you add the iPads (another iOS product), you get a whopping 71% of revenue based on that products. That’s what work.

I have no doubts about this. Apple wants your smartphone to be your PC too. I’m absolutely sure they’re working on it, so stay tuned. Google’s decision won’t be the last on this front.

 

 

 

Nexus 5X & 6P reviews coming: worthy successors with surprising cameras

Reviews on the new Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P are coming. Ars Technica (both in one review, interesting but please, Ars, pagination in 2015? Really?) Engadget (5X, 6P) and TechCrunch (5X, 6P), are amongst the first ones to publish them, but we’ve got also first (I’d say ‘second’) impressions from Wired.

According to Ars, “all other Android devices are second class citizens“. I think this is an overstatement, because the later admit that there is no quick charging or wireless charging support, and the cameras are not comparable but the cameras seem even better tan their rivals’ and they are no longer the typical limited Nexus cameras.

I don’t like the fingerprint position, and as I told previously, Google should use this phones to show what Android 6.0 (and future versions for that matter) can do. That, by the way, is clearly the big pro of both smartphones.

The devices have nice prices in the US. That’s not the case in Spain and the euro zone, where the Nexus 5X ($379) will have a price of 479 euro. The same happens with the Nexus 6P ($499 != 649 euro) .

Not bad phones, but not specially good on the features/price ratio.

The useless Nexus

nexus

I wasn’t impressed by last year Nexus 6, and I’m not impressed by this year’s Nexus 5X and 6P either. The first one was an expensive super-phone (in every sense), and the new phones are not cheap either (at least not outside the US) and they aren’t specially different from the proposals from the traditional Google partners.

Vlad Savov makes a good argument trying to explain what possibly could have motivated Google to launch this products. There were valid reasons originally:

The original Nexus One in 2010 was Google’s first effort at selling its own phones directly to consumers, and was thus the boldest attempt the United States had yet seen of circumventing the market dominance of mobile carriers. The Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus then served as valuable references for the best of Android at a time when Google’s hardware partners were aggravating their users with awful Android skins and long delays on delivering updates. Since then, the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 5 — especially the Nexus 5 — have raised our expectations for what we can get from a good Android phone on a budget

That’s exactly right. Since then, though, the reasons are different, and as Savov points out, it seems Google makes this smartphones just because it can.

It seems Google partners aren’t happy with the situation. Motorola’s Moto X Pure is a good example of a device that should get promoted by Google, and not rivalled by your partner. Maybe Google just use Nexus as ads, like Savov explains, but if that’s the idea, I really don’t see the benefit.

Google should concentrate on making Nexus as the best examples of what a good, affordable device can do with the newest version of Android. That’s it. Let makers make.

Source: Google’s Nexus phones are just ads | The Verge

Amazon banning Chromecast, Apple TV: my country, my rules

 

Amazon.com Inc. will stop selling media-streaming devices from Google Inc. and Apple Inc. that aren’t easily compatible with its video service, the latest example of the company using its clout to promote products that fit with its own retailing strategy.

It’s unfair for users that take advantage of Amazon great service, but it’s a logical decision from a business point of view.

The move, coming just before the year-end holiday shopping season, shows how Amazon is willing to sacrifice sales of popular brand name products — Apple and Google have the best-selling media streaming devices generally — to bolster its own video-streaming service

The explanation is weak, yes -Chromecast and Apple TV aren’t “easily compatible with its video service- but at the end what matters is trying to get traction in this segment. Helping competitors to get their content instead of yours is silly.

I’d have done the same exact thing.

Source: Amazon to Ban Sale of Apple, Google Video-Streaming Devices – Bloomberg Business

Why Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P could matter

It’s a little less than a week until Google reveals its new Nexus devices in San Francisco, but as seems to happen every year, we know pretty much every detail beforehand.

So we’ve got both leaked images and specs (Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P), and the big story here won’t be their performance, or the new USB-C port, or the fingerprint scanner, or even the cameras -though these ones will be very relevant.

No. What matters here is if these will be a continuation of the new philosophy applied on the Nexus 6 -which by all accounts has been a little sales disaster, with price slashes around-. Google can’t compete with Apple on this area. Or with Samsung. They can’t pursuit big profit margins with exclusive hardware/software products: that could annoy their partners.

They should follow what they did with the Nexus 4 and the Nexus 5. Great products at affordable prices that allow us to enjoy the latest Android versions.

The Nexus family hasn’t to be a big seller: it has to be a promise of what others can accomplish with Android.

Source: [Exclusive] Leaked Images Of The New Nexus Phone Retail Boxes Confirm ‘Nexus 5X’ And ‘Nexus 6P’ Model Names

Google Announces Plans for New Operating Structure

Brin and Page are natural cofounders. I guess the maturity of Google is boring to them. They want to start projects, not manage them once they’re established. This a good excuse to create Alphabet and leave Google in the best hands: Sundar Pichai seems really competent.

I don’t really get why Google is part of Alphabet when this company is much important than the rest combined. At least, it is now. Anyway, it gets distractions apart from Google, that now can focus on its core business.

Update: The Verge has a good explanation of the new structure. Now everything makes sense.

Source: Google Announces Plans for New Operating Structure – Investor Relations – Google