Hand Picked Tech News This Week

Another week has come and gone. Not everyone can balance World Cup mania with big data news – so we’ve rounded up the latest for you. Read on for updates on how to avoid speed cameras, smartphone tapping no more, Apple Touch price points, #GoogleIO and the future of the Nook.

Too Smart for Speed Cameras

Cars have long used GPS and mapping features to help drivers detect speed cameras, but Hyundai’s latest vehicle goes a step further to ensure you truly avoid them. The Hyundai Genesis combines GPS and braking technology to slow the car down if a driver is speeding when they approach a speed camera.

“It knows there is a speed camera there, it knows where the speed camera is and it will adopt the correct speed,” explains Hyundai’s Guido Schenken in an interview with Australia’s drive.com.

The speed camera detection system will also alert drivers 800 meters in advance and sound a signal if the car is speeding ahead of the camera. The car detects fixed-speed and average-speed cameras, but the system will not work with mobile cameras or highway patrol cars.

Compared to the current radar and laser detection systems, or plain old GPS alerts, Hyundai’s integration is clearly more complete – and it’s only a glimpse at what smart cars will be capable of in the future.

Supreme Court: Police Can’t Search Smartphones Without Warrant

After years of legal debacle, the Supreme Court has told the cops to keep their hands off Americans’ cell phones – at least until they get a warrant.

In a unanimous ruling by the court, Chief Justice John Roberts said both the quantity and quality of information contained in modern handheld devices is constitutionally protected. The ruling opinion notes that cell phones have, in fact, become tiny computers in our pockets containing highly private data, and gaining access to them is now fundamentally different from rifling through someone’s pockets or purse.

“Modern cellphones are not just another technological convenience,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple — get a warrant.”

Roberts’ opinion embraced arguments long advanced by civil liberties groups about the need to reinterpret the Fourth Amendment in light of new technologies.

“A cell phone search would typically expose to the government far more than the most exhaustive search of a house,” he wrote. “A phone not only contains in digital form many sensitive records previously found in the home; it also contains a broad array of private information never found in a home in any form—unless the phone is.”

At 16 gigabytes, the smallest iPhone can hold a “football field’s worth of books.”

The reality is – modern cell phones contain an incredible amount of information. At 16 gigabytes, the smallest iPhone can hold a “football field’s worth of books.” The decision will likely have long-lasting implications for digital privacy, far beyond the immediate concern surrounding how and when police can search mobile devices.

Read the full ruling here.

Apple Cuts Price on iPod Touch

On Thursday, Apple announced that it would cut prices across the board for its iPod Touch line, trimming the cost of the music players by as much as $100.

Starting Thursday, the 16GB model is available for $199; it previously sold for $229. The 32GB iPod Touch, which previously sold for $299, is available for $249. The 64GB model will sell for $299, a $100 price cut from its previous selling price of $399.

The entire iPod Touch lineup now features a 5-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video recording, 4-inch Retina display, and a front-facing camera, as well as four new colors: pink, yellow, blue and red.

The price cuts are amid lagging sales for Apple’s iPod, once its flagship product line before the arrival of the iPhone. Sales for this little piece of nostalgia plunged more than 50 percent in the last reported fiscal quarter and have become a fraction of the sales that the iPhone and iPad create.

While the iPod Touch is no longer one of Apple’s cash cows, it remains an option as a lower-priced, simpler device for games, media, and music. Nonetheless, if you want to enjoy most of the iPhone’s features without the contract – or you’re not ready to hand your child a phone – the new iPod touch looks like a pretty good deal.

All You Need To Know About the Goole I/O Keynote

On Wednesday, Google delivered a pretty simple message at its annual conference for software developers: Anything you want to do on the Internet, anywhere and on any device, you can do with Google technology.

Google’s two-day conference kicked off with a keynote address focused heavily on the company’s efforts to spread its Android operating system beyond smartphones. Google featured new software for watches, cars and homes. The company also unveiled an initiative, called Android One, to get cheaper smartphones into the hands of more people in developing countries.

“This is one of the most comprehensive releases we have done,” said Sundar Pichai, Chief of Google’s Android division, to a crowd of 6,000+ software developers.

Google said a future version of Android for smartphones and tablets, tentatively named Android L, would include new features, like smarter authentication and anti-theft software.

If a user is wearing a smartwatch paired with the device, he can unlock the phone without entering a passcode. When the watch is removed, the phone will require a passcode again. Android L, which will be available in the fall, will include a so-called kill switch, rendering a device unusable if stolen.

Google overhauled the design of its software system powering smartphones and tablets for Android L. Similar to Apple and Microsoft, Google adopted a “flat” design – called Material Design – with more vibrant colors and added effects like shadows and animations that will extend beyond tablets and phones to Chrome OS and Google’s various web services.

For television, Google announced Android TV. Users can speak voice commands into a smartwatch to search for programs and Google will find the programs if they are available for purchase in its online Play store.

In addition, Google also announced a version of Android customized for cars, called Android Auto, updated features to Drive and Cloud Dataflow, a big data analytics service to crunch information in either streaming or batch mode.

To sum it up, Google wants to go everywhere you go. Your home, your car, in your hand and on your wrist.

Barnes & Noble to Split from Nook Business

Barnes & Noble is splitting its digital Nook Enterprise off from its physical bookstore business, abandoning what analysts once saw as the company’s best chance of surviving competition from the likes of Amazon and Apple.

Barnes & Noble is separating its digital Nook Enterprise

The two new companies are called Barnes & Noble Retail and Nook Media.

The split, expected to occur by March, will make Nook Media a separate public company housing both Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-book and e-reader business as well as its college stores. Among Nook Media’s big shareholders will be Microsoft Corp. and Pearson, both of which have invested in the Nook Media division but don’t have a stake in the broader company.

“We believe we are now in a better position to begin in earnest those steps necessary to accomplish a separation of Nook Media and Barnes & Noble Retail,” said CEO Michael Huseby in a statement. “We have determined that these businesses will have the best chance of optimizing shareholder value if they are capitalized and operated separately.”

The proposed breakup is the latest in a series of corporate restructurings in the media industry over the past couple of years, as companies have spun off weaker businesses to better highlight the value of stronger parts (i.e. Time Warner Inc. and its magazine unit, Time Inc.).

Nook Media will no longer have the comfy life raft of Barnes & Noble. It will sink or swim – and we will be watching from ashore.