In today’s mobile news roundup: Google enlists Warby Parker for Google Glass frame design; Google to launch touchscreen Chrome OS laptop; Yota Devices taps MegaFon in dual-screen smartphone debut; IBM launched a new mobile solutions platform; the FCC adopts new rules for signal boosters; and Qualcomm reveals new low-end chips.
Google enlists Warby Parker for Google Glass frame design
Google recently invited Google Glass enthusiasts to apply for a chance to be a Google Glass Explorer by submitting an application on Google+ or Twitter telling the team how you’d use the connected spectacles.
The Google Glass prototype looks something from a sci-fi flick, which isn’t a bad thing! But would the new glasses appeal to everyone?
Sources claimed that Google has enlisted the help of Warby Parker, makers of vintage-inspired prescription eyeglasses. If you have no idea what ‘vintage-inspired’ is just look at your local hipster’s eyewear.
Design will be increasingly important for Google as it explores the hardware market, rolling out handsets, home entertainment gadgets and connected glasses. As Apple has proven time and again, the look and feel of a product is just as important as its functionality. If Google can win on both fronts, its Google Glass will become all the more appealing.
Google to launch touchscreen Chrome OS laptop
In other Google news, the search giant is said to be working on a touchscreen laptop which will run on its Chrome operating system, and will be out later this year. The sources familiar with the matter stated that it was Google’s way of competing with Microsoft’s Windows platform, as well as its recently launched Surface tablets.
Interestingly, the Chrome OS touchscreen laptop will directly compete with its own ecosystem’s Android-powered tablets and hybrids. Google has two Android tablets, the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, which makes the Chrome OS touchscreen laptop an interesting release.
Though Chromebooks are doing pretty well (some say over 100,000 Chromebooks sold in Q4 2012), Google needs to get with the program of releasing touchscreen devices. This reported laptop release will be Chrome’s answer to the shrinking gap between laptops and tablets, especially with hybrids gaining traction.
Yota Devices taps MegaFon in dual-screen smartphone debut
Last December, news surfaced that Russian manufacturer, Yota Devices, is working on a dual-screen smartphone. The YotaPhone will feature a traditional LCD touchscreen on it’s main screen and an E-Ink back display. Yota claims that the dual-screen will save more battery as it reroutes static information from the LCD screen on the E-Ink back display.
Yota is set to launch the dual-screen smartphone during the second half of 2013, and is currently in negotiations with MegaFon, Russia’s second biggest wireless operator, to carry the device.
MegaFon spokesman Petr Lidov confirmed the company’s interest in carrying the YotaPhone on its network, but declined to divulge information since negotiations are still in the early stage.
IBM launched mobile solutions platform
IBM launched the new MobileFirst platform, which is “a comprehensive mobile portfolio that combines new solutions in mobile security, analytics and application development software, with cloud-based services and deep mobile services expertise.”
MobileFirst will allows businesses to streamline management of employee’s mobile devices, to the creation of a new mobile commerce app, in order to transform their entire business model.
“IBM MobileFirst for us is all about the business of mobility,” Kevin Custis, global leader for mobility services at IBM Global Business Services, said. “It’s very analogous to 15 years ago with the Web and how it became essential for business; the same thing is now happening with mobile. We see a turning point right now. For instance, we realize that many people’s first experience with a business is through mobile these days, so we’re building a platform and services to help clients re-imagine that mobile experience.”
FCC adopts new rules for signal boosters
The Federal Communications Commission recently adopted new rules with regards to sale and deployment of signal boosters.
Signal boosters are devices that enhances a network’s signal so consumers can get better service.
The new FCC rules would prohibit anyone from just buying a signal booster –it now requires registration with their carrier. The network carrier can then apply fees to people using signal boosters.
This new rule could aggravate customers since they use signal boosters to compensate for their network’s poor service. Allowing carriers to charge for owning a signal booster could be considered quite a cozy deal between the FCC and carriers, siding with network providers and caring little for their already poor service.
Qualcomm’s low-end chips
The HTC One got a lot of buzz for so many reasons, including its processing power. It’s using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600, a quad-core, 1.7GHz chip. Qualcomm also has another high-end chip, the Snapdragon 800 which helps devices charge faster and recognize voice commands better.
But Qualcomm is not all about high-end chips. The company unveiled two new low-end chips this week: the Snapdragon 400 and 200. The chips are aimed for use in mid-tier and entry level smartphones.
The Snapdragon 400 includes dual Krait CPUs running at up to 1.7GHz per core, quad ARM Cortex-A7 CPUs humming along at up to 1.4GHz per core, an Adreno 305 GPU, support for TDSCDMA, DC-HSPA+ (42Mbps), 1x Advanced, W+G CDMA, multi-SIM capabilities of Dual SIM, Dual Standby (DSDS) and Dual SIM, Dual Active (DSDA), as well as support for up 13.5 megapixel camera sensors, 1080p video capture / playback and Miracast wireless display tech.
As for the Snapdragon 200, it includes quad ARM Cortex-A5 CPUs at up to 1.4GHz per core, an Adreno 203 GPU, HD video playback, GPS, LPDDR2 RAM, multi-SIM support and the ability to handle up to 8 megapixel camera sensors.