Google Glass pulled
Google Glass has always been the most intriguing, and polarizing, of all the wearable technology which has burst onto the tech scene in recent years.
Perhaps that’s because Google’s vision – to release a set of glasses with a screen above the right eye capable of taking pictures, streaming videos, and providing directions – exceeded the company’s realistic ability to commercialize the product in only a few years. Now, the Google Glass experiment is on hold.
Production and sales of Google Glass that began in the U.S. in 2013 and the U.K. in 2014 have halted. The move will disgruntle a large population of Google Glass owners who expected the device to become one of the most innovative gadgets of 2015.
The game isn’t over for Google Glass – the team is separating from the “moon shot” Google X lab and forming its own division within the company. Tony Fadell, the CEO of recently acquired home automation business Nest, will oversee the project.
While this is an indicator that the product’s development has slowed, there is still a positive outlook for the future. In an announcement on its official Google+ blog, the Google Glass team committed to developing a different, but equally innovative product – just at a slower pace and away from the limelight. “We’re continuing to build for the future, and you’ll start to see future versions of Glass when they’re ready,” the company said. “Hang tight – it’s going to be an exciting ride.”
No date has been set for when the new versions of Google Glass may become available.
Xiaomi takes on iPhone 6 Plus
Xiaomi, the world’s most valuable technology startup, has entered into the larger, high end smartphone market, putting the Chinese company in direct competition with Samsung’s Galaxy Note and the iPhone 6 Plus.
Xiaomi was declared the world’s most valuable tech startup last month at a staggering valuation of $45 billion ($5 billion more than Uber), and the company has heaped even more pressure on the reigning smartphone market incumbents with two new phablets.
CEO Lei Jun introduced the Mi Note on Thursday in Beijing, claiming that the phablet is shorter, lighter, and thinner than the iPhone 6 Plus. But most importantly, the 16gb model is less than half the price of the iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 at $371. With impressive specs boasting patented technology for the likes of its 13 megapixel camera (Lei Jun told a Beijing audience the company filed for 2,318 patents last year) the smartphone appears to be a bargain. Selling smartphones at a discount to their giant competitors’ is the strategy that has propelled Xiaomi to prominence.
Some other notable moments from Xiaomi within the past year include overtaking Samsung smartphone sales in China and more than doubling its revenue in 2014.
Uber continues to battle regulations
Taxi-hailing app Uber is in the midst of a remarkable growth phase, and is valued at over $40 billion. Yet the company has had its pitfalls – accusations of rape by an Uber driver in New Delhi, protests by taxi drivers in Spain, and an order to shut down in Portland, to name just the most recent.
The company’s struggles have continued into 2015, the latest angered entity being the South Carolina government. The state has ordered the ride sharing app to shut down until it earns the proper certifications for its drivers.
In a move that might earn the company some trust and goodwill, Uber plans to release transportation data to government officials, starting in Boston. The data will include where a ride began, how long it took, and the final destination, but will not disclose any personal data on the customer.
“The data we’re going to provide will help cities manage growth, relieve traffic congestion, expand public transit, fill potholes,” says justin Kintz, Uber’s head of policy for North America, according to the Washington Post.
The 2015 year will be defining for Uber, as the company will try to sustain its growth and navigate legal, privacy, and safety issues along the way.
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