Nick Statt, The Verge
Sony’s newly formed R&D outfit, Future Lab, is here at SXSW to show off its first concept prototype: a pair of headphones worn around the neck that direct audio upwards so only you can hear it. Codenamed Concept N, the Bluetooth device takes the design of those wacky-looking neck-worn headphones and packs in multi-directional speakers so you can listen to music without buds or over-the-ear pads.
Abhimanyu Ghoshal, The Next Web
Opera has updated its desktop browser for Windows and OS X with ad-blocking baked right in. The company believes its new feature helps speed up page loads by 40 percent on average and works better than third-party extensions.
Jaikumar Vijayan, eWeek
A new Google portal will give developers expert advice on how to design applications and Web pages for optimal performance on mobile devices. As a company that derives a huge portion of its revenue from online ads, Google has a lot at stake in ensuring that people are able to access information and applications content on their mobile devices as easily as possible.
Tom Warren, The Verge
Microsoft is announcing a big new feature for Xbox owners today: cross-network play. It’s something the software giant has hinted at for years, and now it seems the reality of PS4, Xbox One, and PC players playing the same game together might finally happen. Developers building games for Xbox One and Windows 10 will be able to support the feature, but it will require Sony and others to “participate” in order for games to be played across Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Nick Statt, The Verge
Sony’s Future Lab is a R&D group responsible for taking crazy ideas into the prototype phase, and one impressive vision shown here at SXSW in Austin this week is a projector that turns any flat surface into a screen for light to play on. The “Interactive Tabletop” concept uses depth sensors and motion tracking to know when objects are placed on the table and even bring storybooks to life. The project looks like a fully realized version of the augmented reality coffee table inventor and technologist Bastian Broecker constructed back in 2012 using a PlayStation Eye camera and a Microsoft Kinect sensor.
Patrick Klepek, Kotaku
Sony is currently planning a new version of the PS4 with increased graphical power and games running at 4K resolution, developer sources tell Kotaku. We don’t know whether current PS4 owners will be able to upgrade or if they’ll have to buy an entirely new device to benefit from this power boost, but from what we hear, Sony has started briefing developers.
Will Shanklin, Gizmag
Smartwatches are creating unexpected new rivalries, where tech companies like Huawei and Samsung are going head-to-head with jewelry firms like Tag Heuer and the Fossil Group. The Fossil Q Founder is a worthy Android Wear watch that shows that watch companies can make tech products nearly as well as tech companies can make watches.
Cade Metz, Wired
If you’re one of 500 million people who use Dropbox, it’s just a folder on your computer desktop that lets you easily store files on the Internet, send them to others, and synchronize them across your laptop, phone, and tablet. You use this folder, then you forget it. And that’s by design. Peer behind that folder, however, and you’ll discover an epic feat of engineering. Dropbox runs atop a sweeping network of machines whose evolution epitomizes the forces that have transformed the heart of the Internet over the past decade. And today, this system entered a remarkable new stage of existence.
Jillian D’Onfro, Business Insider
A Google representative visited a California pawn shop earlier this week to retrieve what appeared to be an unreleased version of its smart headset, Google Glass, that was listed on eBay over the weekend.
Ken Yeung, VentureBeat
Google has quietly been building a new livestreaming app called YouTube Connect, VentureBeat has learned. This service highlights the company’s efforts to double down on live video while also placing it in a position to compete directly against Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook Live. YouTube Connect will be available on both iOS and Android devices.
Edgar Alvarez, Engadget
Google’s trying to redefine the TV and audio experience with its Casting technology, and it is getting the help it needs from manufacturers to do just that. One of them being Vizio, which today revealed a new set of 4K, HDR TVs that rely solely on Google Cast to get streaming content from third-party apps. As part of this, Google is now changing the name of the Chromecast app to Google Cast, in what’s supposed to represent the broadness of the platform, according to the company.
Marisa Garcia, Mashable
If you’ve been hyperventilating over dystopian “cabins of the future” which have gone viral over the past year, it’s time to break out the champagne and toast social media’s power to move mountains. (Or at least make icebergs jiggle a bit.) Airbus revealed its new will-actually-happen cabin, called Airspace, in London this week, and it is designed to make travelers happy online and in the air.
Sarah Perez, TechCrunch
As promised, Hulu has entered the world of VR. The streaming service today announced the launch of an app designed for Samsung’s Gear VR powered by Oculus. Now available on the Gear VR Oculus Store, the new app is the first of what the company says will be several VR apps for different platforms, currently in the works. In addition to providing access to Hulu’s 2D content library in a “360-degree” environment, Hulu has also introduced exclusive original content along with several VR films.
Christian de Looper, Digital Trends
Apple isn’t the only company fighting against government-backed cyber attacks. While Apple and the FBI bicker over user security, Google is bringing security into the public eye in a different way – by simply telling you what’s going on. The company will be increasing the visibility of Gmail security warnings to try and help people better protect themselves when sending and receiving emails.
Chloe Olewitz, Digital Trends
While many people in the world are worrying that robots will take over human jobs once artificial intelligence (AI) is fully developed, it’s a safe bet that no one put “author” at the top of the robot job list. Yet, now that a Japanese AI program has co-authored a short-form novel that passed the first round of screening for a national literary prize, it seems that no occupation is safe. The robot-written novel didn’t win the competition’s final prize, but who’s to say it won’t improve in its next attempt?