Saturday, 5 April 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

Google is Getting Ready to Inspire a Dozen Fire TV Competitors

Posted: 05 Apr 2014 04:26 PM PDT

It’s only Android-TV[1]been days since Amazon unveiled their living room gadget, the Fire TV, and now new leaks suggest that Google is working on a similar product.

The Verge got their hands on documents concerning something called Android TV. Almost no hardware details are known about it, but it looks to me like Android TV is intended to do for TVs what Android Wear did for smartwatches:

Google's new vision for Android TV is less ambitious and easier to understand. The company is calling for developers to build extremely simple TV apps for an extremely simple set-top-box interface. While Android still lives under the hood, the interface will consist of a set of scrolling “cards” that represent movies, shows, apps, and games sitting on a shelf. You use a remote control with a four-way directional pad to scroll left and right through different suggestions, or up and down through different categories of content, each with their own shelves. Much like on other set top boxes, each item will be like a miniature movie poster or book cover, and you'll pick the one you want. The controller will also have Enter, Home, and Back buttons to help get around, and there will be “optional” game controllers.

Android TV will also support voice input and notifications — though Google is encouraging developers to only use notifications in very limited cases. In total, Android TV is remarkably similar to Amazon’s just-released, Android-based Fire TV.

Aside from the framework Google is providing to developers, there is very little here that hasn’t already shown up in existing smartTVs and set top boxes like the Fire TV, Roku 3, or the dozens of similar boxes and dongles developed by Chinese and other gadget makers.

But what sets Android TV apart is that it looks to me like Android TV isn’t a device so much as it is a platform for device makers and app developers to build on. If I am right them this could spur the development of not just one set top box running Android but a whole host of competing devices.

Google had previously shown interest in this market when they debuted the failed Google TV concept in 2012, but now it feels like Google TV is going to have the same status as Google Glass. The latter device has been sidelined ever since Android Wear launched last month as the newer platform picked up more press and more attention from developers.

There’s no word yet on when this will launch but I would expect to see this soon.

The post Google is Getting Ready to Inspire a Dozen Fire TV Competitors appeared first on The Digital Reader.

New Report Suggests Wifi is Probably Not Frying Your Brain

Posted: 05 Apr 2014 02:39 PM PDT

A new wi-fi[1]report from the Royal Society of Canada calls into question the ongoing urban legends about the possible harmful effects of Wifi.

The 165 page report was generated on behalf of Health Canada as part of that organization’s regular reconsideration of safety standards, and while it doesn’t contain any new data it does include a review of existing research.

The tl;dr version of the report is that a panel of experts have concluded that current safety standards are sufficient. While it is true that a sufficiently powerful electromagnetic signal can have effects like shocks, a tingling sensation, or increase your body temperature via a general heating of water, the report concludes that these effects are unlikely to occur with existing Canadian safety standards.

Most importantly, the report notes that there is no conclusive evidence that currently widely used technologies (Wifi, for example) are dangerous at the time. So long as equipment meets existing certifications, the many groups trying to get Wifi banned from schools are panicking about nothing.

It’s worth noting that the reports did find some in the risks of exposure to em signals that met current safety standards, but it was inconsistent:

Therefore, the Panel has concluded that the balance of evidence at this time does not indicate negative health effects from exposure to RF energy below the limits recommended in the Safety Code. However, research on many of these health effects is ongoing and it is possible that the findings of future studies may alter this balance of evidence. The Panel recommends that Health Canada should continue to monitor the literature for emerging evidence and that it aggressively pursue scientific research aimed at clarifying the RF energy-cancer issue and at further investigating the question of electromagnetic hypersensitivity, in particular.

Within the constraints of available resources and time, the Panel reviewed the scientific literature on biological effects of radio frequency fields. This literature includes a number of reports of effects in various biological systems at exposure levels below recommended SC6 limits. In general, these reported low-level effects are often not consistent across similar studies and have no clear implications with respect to human health.

The report says that further study is needed.


Ars Technica

The post New Report Suggests Wifi is Probably Not Frying Your Brain appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Nook for Android Updated

Posted: 05 Apr 2014 12:16 PM PDT

Barnes & Noblenook itunes answered one of my open questions earlier this week with a new update for their Android app.

According to my sources, the app now enables readers to browse and sample ebooks without an account. It will also now ping you with notifications about deals in the Nook Store, reading recommendations and more.

The browsing option is an uncommon feature among reading apps, but the notifications s not. Kobo has implemented a similar feature on their Android tablets. (This can be annoying if you don’t buy from Kobo.)

And finally thanks to the update the app also now supports annual subscriptions. This last is a rather odd feature to highlight, given the Nook Store has supported subscriptions for at least 3 years now.

You can find the app in Google Play.


• Start reading with just 3 taps. Browse and sample books free before creating an account.
• Get NOOK notifications about great deals, reading recommendations & more.
• Newsstand savings—set up an annual subscriptions to select magazines and lock-in one low rate for an entire year.
• Bug fixes

The post Nook for Android Updated appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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