Today in Tech News Digest, Android Wear for wearables, Moto 360 and LG G Watch, the NSA is MYSTIC, Xbox One expansion plan, PlayStation 4 virtual reality headsets, LINE Call for international chats, and the ‘Unnumbered Sparks’ art installation.
Google Android Wear For Wearables
Google has revealed Android Wear, an operating system built for wearables. Just as it did with Google Glass prior to launch, the company has released a concept video showing how Android Wear would work on smartwatches. But this looks to be much closer to reality than the Google Glass ‘One Day’ video.
Android Wear is primarily Google Now on wearable devices, but fitness and navigation apps are also being touted as important features. A Developer Preview has been released to make sure developers have plenty of time to adapt their apps to work with Android Wear.
This is very much a work in progress, with Android Wear likely to be shown off in more detail at the Google I/O conference in June. Meanwhile, manufacturing partners such as Motorola, LG, Samsung, and HTC, as well as fashion brands including Fossil are working on wearable devices…
Motorola & LG Unveil New Smartwatches
Motorola and LG became the first two companies to announce smartwatches powered by Android Wear, with the Moto 360 and G Watch being shown off. Both are likely to be launched later this year, but no hardware specs, pricing details, or release dates are yet being discussed.
The LG G Watch looks very much like other smartwatches we have already seen, with a simple square design. The Motorola Moto 360 looks more like a traditional watch, with a round design resembling the smartwatch concept from Gábor Balogh that recently got us excited.
NSA Records 100 Percent Of Phone Calls
Does the NSA have an in-house illustrator or is this stock art? pic.twitter.com/BK0ibxOAgr
— Matt Novak (@paleofuture) March 18, 2014
The latest revelation to emerge from the Edward Snowden documents is that the NSA (National Security Agency) has the means to record “100 percent of a foreign country’s telephone calls.” The system, called MYSTIC, includes a tool called RETRO which enables the agency to review, rewind, and replay conversations for up to a month after they take place.
MYSTIC was allegedly launched in 2009, reaching full capacity against the first target in 2011. The Washington Post reports that every call in that unidentified country is recorded with a 30-day buffer meaning old ones are cleared out to make way for new ones. Like some sort of omnipotent TiVo.
Xbox One Coming To 26 More Countries
Microsoft is preparing to launch the Xbox One in 26 new countries in September. The list of countries is as follows: Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.
Several of these countries were meant to get the Xbox One in November but Microsoft delayed the launch citing “localization issues.” It isn’t all that impressive that it will have taken almost a year for these issues to be resolved but I guess later is better than never.
Project Morpheus, The PS4 VR Headset
I don’t even care what Project Morpheus is, it’s the COOLEST NAME EVER
— David Pierce (@piercedavid) March 19, 2014
Sony has revealed its long-gestating plans for a virtual reality headset. The hardware being built for use on PlayStation 4 was shown off in prototype form at GDC 2014 (Game Developers Conference).
The VR system, revealed at an event ambitiously titled ‘Driving the Future of Innovation’, is currently codenamed Project Morpheus [PDF link] and features a 1080p LCD display and a 90-degree field of vision.
Sony clearly believes virtual reality is the future of gaming, with Sony Magic Lab’s Richard Marks saying, “VR is going to be pervasive, and what I mean by that is it’s going to be used for all sorts of things you might not think it would be used for.”
LINE Call Makes Conversation Cheap
The people behind popular messaging app LINE have added LINE Call to their service. Available for Android immediately, and coming to iOS soon, LINE Call brings cheap international calls to LINE users in eight countries, including the U.S.
Unnumbered Sparks Hits Vancouver
And finally, a new art installation only made possible by technology has been unveiled in Vancouver, Canada. The piece, titled Unnumbered Sparks, is a sculpture made from ultralight fibers which visitors interact with using their smartphones.
The sculpture is actually a 300-foot Web browser displayed in the air thanks to five high-definition projectors. Visitors choose a color in their mobile browser, tracing their finger across the screen to change the sculpture hanging above them.