Here are the top tech stories (chosen by me) that made the news the past week which I have discussed on  @SAFMRadio with  @AshrafGarda during Tech Media today:

1. The annual developer-focused conference held by Google, called the Google I/O event (stands for input/output and “Innovation in the Open”) was held in San Francisco last Wednesday and Thursday, This event features highly technical, in-depth sessions focused on building web, mobile, and enterprise applications with Google and open web technologies such as Android, Chrome, Chrome OS, Google APIs,  and more. It is the equivalent to the Apple Developer Conference which was held a month ago which coincidently was what I chatted to Ashraf about when I was last on SAFM.

Many announcements were made as well as the obvious lack of mention of Google+ which has left users and developers wondering about the fate of Google’s answer to Social Media.

Top 5 noteworthy announcements were :

    •  Android L – this is the latest version of the Google’s Operating System  and is rival to iOS8. Although currently is flavourless (previous versions named KitKat, honeycomb, though rumour is this may be Liquorice or Lindt), this will be well digested by the Android community. Obvious improvements in this mobile O/S include performance and design optimisations.

      There is enhanced notifications  incorporated into the lock screen so no longer will there be a need  to unlock, swipe down and read. It’s all just right there – all about minimising clicks (behaviour of the mobile consumer). The UI is also consistent between Android, Chrome OS and Android Wear.

    • Android Wear-  Google’s smart watch platform made its on-stage debut at Google IO with the company calling it a “new phase in miniaturization of technology.”There are currently 3 android smart watches, LG Watch, Samsung Gear Live and Moto 360.

      According to Google, only now is it possible to make a powerful computer comfortable on the body all day long and it will l make your “in-real-life” conversations more comfortable too.  Android users typically check their phone 125 times a day, and rather than reaching out for a phablet (as phones are just getting bigger), all relevant information can be shown quickly at a glance on an Android Wear smart watch.

      Android Wear supports both circular and square-shaped displays and follow Google’s design trend of appearing as a stream of cards. Swiping and pressing and holding changes cards and options.

      Apps for reminders, navigation via Google Maps mobile were demoed and a full Android Wear SDK is available to developers. Consumers should start seeing smart watch apps as soon as the watches launch.

    • Android Auto –   Google ‘s answer to rival  Apple’s Car Play where Google’s smartphone experience is cast to your cars screen and  supports steering wheel buttons, console dials and touchscreen while all of the apps are still running on the phone. That means the experience gets better when updating the Android-native apps or whenever you get a new phone. You won’t have to upgrade to a new car to enhance the experience. It also means that Google Maps can finally be in your in-car infotainment systems. Other popular  and familiar services such as Google messages, Google’s contacts,  reminders and music services are now integrated.
    • Android TV – Google TV is now officially rebranded to Android TV. The smoother scrolling experience of the user interface is coupled with new voice search capabilities. It goes beyond searching for movie titles and TV shows like the newly announced Amazon Fire TV. Google voice searching for actresses brings up bios to help you answer that “What else do I know her from” question. The new TV platform is coming this fall and has television manufacturers including Sony, Sharp and Philips are already on board.
    • Unlimited Google Drive Storage for $10/month –  Upgrades for Google Apps customers, namely unlimited Drive storage for $10 per user per month.   This unlimited storage is billed by Google as Google Drive for Work or Google Apps UnlimitedGoogle Drive for Work is a huge milestone for the Google Apps platform and ecosystem. As Google continues to build up its enterprise storage and collaboration solution, competitors like Box, Dropbox and others will face more and more obstacles – Google has the ability, technology, scale and established business to be able to offer unlimited storage without blinking an eye and we’re excited to see what the future has in store. Google Apps for work  can be purchased through the Google Apps Admin Console Google Drive for Work / Apps Unlimited includes all Google Apps for Business features as well as:
      • Unlimited storage with up to 5TB file size
      • Additional auditing specifically allowing administrators to view activity around moving, deleting or sharing files within or outside the company
      • New security controls allowing administrators to set sync client, offline, Drive app and Add-ons settings at the Organizational Unit level
      • Drive for Work includes Google Apps Vault, which has been expanded to provide search for all content stored in Drive

In addition to these premium features, all files uploaded to Drive will now be encrypted – not only from a user’s devices to Google and in transit between Google data centers, but also at rest on Google servers.


In other news:

2. Bigger iPhones will be arriving in September : –  Suppliers in China are about to start work on two new iPhones, according to an  article from Bloomberg, the phones will have display screens that are 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches across, when measured diagonally , which is a major leap from the 4-inch displays on the iPhone 5S and 5C.

3. The World Cup was the first to break 1 billion interactions on Facebook:  – The World Cup is officially the most popular event in Facebook history, the company said yesterday. Between June 12 and June 29, Facebook counted over 1 billion interactions on its network, courtesy of 220 million users, the social network  noted. Facebook counts interactions as user posts, comments, and likes related to a conversation about the World Cup. The milestone, which was reached before the World Cup has even come close to reaching its July 13 conclusion, is the first time in Facebook history that the company has counted over a billion interactions for any single event.

App of the week : – The bidorbuy app for Windows phone

Bidorbuy (Africa’s largest online marketplace)  extends their mobile app offering on the windows phone platform. With previous apps on the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry 10 platforms , they are now the only SA company to have a fully  e-commerce app on the Windows Phone platform with a number of features native to Windows Phone. These features include:

  • live tiles (bringing personalised information to your home screen)
  • great transitions and animations and functions really fluid
  • The app functions across all Windows Phone 8 devices, irrespective if it is the entry level Lumia 520 or the flagship 1020 or phablet 1520.
  • a visual representation of the bid history is featured on each auction page.
  • NFC tap-to-share whereby items can be shared across phones which have NFC capabilities.
Overall this is an excellent locally developed app which does not compromise on the core  functionality of the bidorbuy buyer experience,  and is super-fast and provides a truly native windows phone experience that windows phone users will expect to have.
Gadget of the week – Lumia 630

The first Windows Phone 8.1 smartphone to hit the market is the Lumia 630, the successor to the successful Lumia 520.  Arriving in  vibrant colours  with changeable covers, the Lumia has a 5MP camera, talk time of up to 13 hrs using 3G,  25 hrs standby time. The 630′s quad-core Snapdragon processor provides a faster social experience on leading social apps like WhatsApp and Facebook, while benefiting from high-end Lumia apps such as Nokia Camera, maps and navigation from HERE, plus free MixRadio streaming, the device brings the consumer a premium experience at a Recommended Retail Price of R1999. The Lumia 630 is expected to be available in July.

That is all for this week. Catch me again on the 1st Tuesday of every month on SAFM at  2.30pm. Follow @UAndBMobile for the latest on everything mobile from trends to the latest useful and beautiful mobile  solutions deployed all over the world.