Microsoft Courier reclaimed

Engadget reports that a team of Microsoft developers have been working on Project Austin, a note-taking app for Courier presented a fascinating environment for visual project-based brainstorming and organization. Folding screens make much more sense when the system software has been built for it from the ground up. However, even when I wrote about Courier’s potential, I noted that most of the magic was in the software, offering “The iPad’s blank slate might make it possible to create something like Courier as an app.”

As the Engadget post notes, that came to pass.  However, it cites Fifty-Three, Inc.’s Paper, which is merely a nicely executed and well-received drawing app, and not Taposé, the real attempt to implement the Courier on the iPad that has received a lukewarm reception. Windows 8 would strongly benefit from something that combined the intuitiveness of the touch interface with the power of the PC. Project Austin, which takes advantage of Windows 8’s capabilities,  has much potential to be such a showcase app. Even untethered from what would have no doubt been a pricey device, though, it’s unclear how large the target market is for apps such as Project Austin or Taposé. And that, of course, was what would have killed the Courier, regardless of how it delivered its message.

Not every crowdfunded watch gets $10 million

On the other hand, some do pretty well even if they’re not smartwatches. But if you like the idea of watches colored to reflect various causes, there’s a better-looking alternative.

Double Robotics raises $250K for telepresence robot

I’m still not necessarily convinced that hardware startups are hot, but this cross between a Galileo and Segway is. It would be even cooler if it could find its own charger like a Roomba, It’s also $2,000, which is $200 less than the MakerBot Replicator 2 tackling fabrication. Between those two products and further musing on the potential for warp drive, it’s been a good week for technology holy grails.

Nissan NV200 becomes New York’s Taxi of Tomorrow

Tomorrow arrives in October 2013. There’s two USB charging ports for passengers and independent air conditioning for passengers plus an intercom system! Also, it looks like it will be worthwhile to lug around a 12V adapter for times trapped in traffic.

Via Engadget

Can’t iTouch this

The dead-on accuracy of the iPhone 5 rumors were in contrast to the lack of them pertaining to the new iPods, at least one of which underwent a far more dramatic form factor change from its predecessor. One of the few rumors that turned out to be false was that Apple might rename the iPod touch to the iTouch, making what is often a nickname for the device its official moniker. Part of the rationale was that the iPod touch, which is an iOS device, has relatively little in common with other iPods more focused on music playback. Also, since the advent of the touchscreen iPod nano, it hasn’t even been the only iPod nano with a touchscreen.

Still, the iPod touch’s “non-iPodness” has been true since the debut of the product and the name change wasn’t likely. While the iPod touch has always lived in the iPhone’s shadow, it’s been a a successful product in its own right, and the iPod brand has been built over a decade. It seems more likely that Apple will continue to gradually shift perceptions of what the iPod brand stands for rather than abandon that brand.

HTC vs. Nokia: This does not mean war

Dan Rowinski goes for the hyperbole in implying that HTC has declared war on Nokia. Apple versus Samsung, now that is war. They’re suing each other all around the world and each has almost nothing to gain from the other succeeding or even surviving (at least as far as Samsung’s mobile phone division is concerned. Semiconductors is another story.) That HTC and Nokia both chose to offer their latest Windows Phones in a variety of bright colors is nothing more than a coincidence and perhaps a common pursuit of “human” design (at the risk of forfeiting the alien market?).

Not only does Nokia (among others) have a long history in offering handsets in multiple colors, but its on-ramp to the rainbow road for the 820 relies on snap-on back covers, not the integrated backs that HTC has used on its lower-end phone, the 8S. Of course, HTC and Nokia are competitors, and if the pool of customers who are interested in Windows Phone, does not grow, more competition is bad for Nokia. But if the pool of customers for Windows Phone does not grow, that’s lethal for Nokia.

Demonstrating quad-core power

Advances in processor speeds are heralded as some of the most important new features in smartphones. They can make user interfaces richer and more responsive and help improve battery life, particularly when the number of cores expand. But there aren’t abundantly compelling ways to demo these capabilities beyond games. And for that to be effective, you need to have strong strong developer support (from at least one developer). SunSpider benchmarks aren’t exactly thrilling, and it’s not like you’re going to run the battery down to show the improvement in longevity.

At today’s U.S. hands-on of the Optimus G, though, LG took a different approach, showing off how the Qualcomm S4 Pro quad-core processor (in conjunction with an advanced camera) could help enable some highly relevant photography tricks such as sampling from multiple photograph to correct mishaps such as closed eyes and motion blur. It also showed some less common scenarios, such as being able to take a phone call or engage in other activities as the phone played a video on the television via a Wi-Fi connection and (less impressively) show slide previews and speaker notes while a presentation was running on that TV (just like a real grown-up laptop). Or Blackberry Playbook.


The driverless car is coming (but won’t hit you)

GM’s Cadillac division expects to produce partially autonomous cars at a large scale by 2015, and the automaker also predicts it will have fully autonomous cars available by the end of the decade.

Don’t text while driving; watch a movie instead. We think of the influx of the Internet while we’re driving as the distraction. But for Google, the road is the distraction, diverting your attention away from revenue-generating advertisements. Once autonomous driving becomes common, we’ll have to evolve from flipping each other off for poor driving to our taste in romantic comedies.

Via CEOutlook

JetBlue to get in-flight Wi-Fi

Chris Welch:

It claims tests have loaded 10 (unspecified) web pages in an average of 1 minute, 18 seconds compared to an unnamed competitor that took over eight minutes to accomplish the same feat.

Free, fast and… finally!

The Verge on Nikon’s Android-equipped Coolpix S800c

David Pierce:

Nikon’s also one of the few companies that can bring a feature to the photography mainstream by sheer force of will

I can’t think of an example of this beyond Ashton Kutcher commercials.

[S]low is one thing on a phone, but it’s far worse on a camera. Your camera needs to take a shot as soon as you want it to — every miilisecond of lag is a perfect shot you didn’t get. So the fact that the S800c won’t even launch the camera app from anywhere but the home screen (pressing the shutter release does nothing otherwise) is a huge problem.

Pierce pins the camera’s sluggishness on Gingerbread versus Android in general. I used a fair number of Gingerbread phones and don’t remember them being that much slower than Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich. Rather, Nikon likely just put an underpowered processor or other substandard spec in there.

At least it’s not available in eye-searing.