News from around the web this week includes reports that Chrome OS will be swallowed up by Android, marking the super dominance of mobility, and giving us a unified operating system. Just say no to crack with the power of ShatterShield. Like a real-life Inspector Gadget, you can plug your belt into a power socket, and recharge your mobile devices with you belt. Bosch is helping make the roads a safer place for pedestrians. And, Facebook is reaching the corners of the Earth with connectivity, and finding ways to monetize them too. Last, do not steal a Tesla that has a spare key fob in the glove box.
It looks likely that Google will streamline their platforms by combining Android and Chrome OS in 2017, as reported this week by the Wall Street Journal. Android, which powers 80 percent of the world’s smartphones, as well as watches, car dashboard controls, and much more, is much more widely used than Chrome OS, which is primarily used on Chromebook laptops. So, Chrome OS will probably be absorbed into Android, and Android will evolve to run on laptop and desktop computers. A name for the combined operating system, as well as a new name for the Chromebook, has not been revealed. While the impact on most users will be minimal, the dominance of Android over Chrome OS is significant as an indicator of the growth of the modern mobile world. And moving desktops to Android will open the Google Play Store apps to a wider customer base. Microsoft also moved to a unified operating system with Windows 10 running on mobile devices, desktops, and the Xbox game system, where Apple remains committed to separate operating systems with iOS and MacOS.
Choose to be crack-free
Roughly five days after getting my newest smartphone, I dropped it on a rough gravel parking lot. The resulting crooked cracks across my screen have taunted me ever since. That makes Motorola’s new Moto X-Force worth checking out. Its biggest selling point is that its display screen is guaranteed not to shatter or break, including a four-year warranty. Its ‘ShatterShield’ is made of five layers that absorb impact to prevent cracking. Moto X Force also features a 21-megapixel camera with a selfie-facing LED flash, 3 GB of RAM, a 2GHz octa-core Snapdragon 810 processor, and an extra microSD slot. Almost as exciting as the shatter-proof screen, it also claims that the battery lasts 48 hours, and speedily charges to 13 hours of battery life in just 15 minutes with a compatible plug. I accept your crack challenge, Motorola.
Accessorize your “power” suit
If you often forget your phone charger, but you usually wear pants with belt loops, then the Ion Belt might work for you. This portable charger that doubles as a belt holds 3,000 mAh of power, enough to fully charge an iPhone more than once. The buckle pin is also a USB plug, which can be plugged directly into a USB port for recharging. The other end of the belt holds a discharge USB port where any rechargeable device’s cable can be plugged in. For the wearer’s safety, the battery is encased in a unique steel Encapsulpak. The Ion Belt comes in black leather with polished buckles, and comes in 3 sizes from 28” to 44”. It launched on Kickstarter this week and is expected to ship in June 2016. Just remember, if you have to recharge your belt at the office, do not let your pants fall.
A win for walkers
Bosch is developing a pedestrian protection system to help drivers "brake and take evasive action if there is the threat of a car-pedestrian collision," the company says. It will use a stereo video camera mounted on the windshield to detect the risk of collision with a walker and compute an evasive maneuver in a fraction of a second. If the driver is not steering adequately to avoid an accident, the assistance system will take over braking and/or steering. Considering that 14 percent of U.S. traffic fatalities in 2013 were pedestrians, and this technology is projected to avoid 60 percent of pedestrian-automobile cases, this could be a very valuable life-saving system. And remember how Tesla said that their autopilot feature would “hopefully” not hit pedestrians? They need this. It is expected to be ready for production in 2018.
Monetizing the 3rd world
Facebook is making strides toward bringing the entire world online, and making themselves all the Earth’s social network. But they also want to make a few bucks off the low-bandwidth emerging markets, like Nigeria, Kenya, and the Philippines. This week we learned one way that they do that is with Slideshow. This lightweight video ad format takes a series of 3 to 7 photos and turns them into a 15-second slideshow-like video. It has been tested with some big brands and has been found more effective than basic, static ads.
Stealing isn’t fun anymore
We have been skeptically watching Tesla’s autopilot feature the last two weeks, waiting for something bad to happen. Let’s give them full credit for something good happening with a Tesla this week. Thanks to their app and a spare key fob that was left in the car, the location of a Tesla that was stolen from a parking garage was tracked by the owner in real time. The tracking information allowed law enforcement to corner and arrest the culprit. That really takes the fun out of stealing cars.
What else happened in web new this week? Is the Ion belt pure genius, or pure silliness? Is the uncrackable quality of the new Motorola phone enough to make you a customer? Tell us what you think!