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Month: November 2014

Google Dominates Times Square With Massive LED Billboard

Google Dominates Times Square With Massive LED Billboard

Image Source: http://www.androidcentral.com/google-giant-billboard-times-square
Image Source: http://www.androidcentral.com/google-giant-billboard-times-square

Android, despite it’s popularity, has little to now power as a brand. People know their phones run Android, but it’s Samsung’s Galaxy brand or Motorola’s Moto brand that really stands out. Google wants to change that.

With the rising popularity of Nexus as a consumer brand Google’s been using it as a stepping stone to bring Android into the public consciousness as a major brand – it will be Android first, Galaxy/Moto/HTC second. First, Google forced OEMs to include a standard ‘Powered by Android’ bootscreen, and alongside the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 launched their “Be together, not the same” campaign showcasing Android users’ creations in the Androidify app.

This gigantic, 20 million pixel, LED billboard is the latest addition to Google’s campaign, dominating Times Square in New York. The billboard was built and is owned by Mitsubishi, and estimates claim Google is paying more than $2.5 million for four weeks. User-created Androidify figures appear on the 8 storey tall billboard, and an elevated stage lets passers by control figures with Kinect-like sensors.

Source: Android Central

 

A New Bugatti On The Way?

A New Bugatti On The Way?

2010-Bugatti-Chiron-Back-View

The Bugatti Veyron. I always suspect that enthusiasts underestimate the immense engineering which went into this car nine years ago. The details to this car are incredible. However, the time has come to lay the queen to rest , and for a rightful heir to take her place. Thank you Veyron, for pushing the boundaries, and setting a new benchmark in performance.

So, the new kid has some exceptionally large shoes to fill in, and it appears that Bugatti are not taking a half-hearted approach.  The royal W16 will be updated for 2015/2016, with direct fuel injection and electrically-assisted turbochargers. It is also going to be a hybrid, in order to compete with the latest generation of hypercars like the LaFerrari, the 918 and the P1. It is also expected to be lighter than the current generation. There is also talk of a 286 mph top speed.

Which is all lovely, if you are a twelve years old. If I were Bugatti, I would scrap the “new Veyron” idea, and revisit the the whole saloon idea. Bugatti is so much more than just a brand interested in immense speed. In the past, they had an aristocratic quality about them. They were the car of choice for people with great taste and even greater pockets.

bugatti-galibier-top-view

The Gabilier Concept encompassed that old world idea. It represented a classier and more elegant Bugatti. While the new car will be great, I will always wish that Bugatti opted for a more elegant type of car, rather than a new version of the car every rapper owns.

 

The Audi Prologue Revealed

The Audi Prologue Revealed

Last week, Audi revealed a concept known simply as the Prologue. They claim it is merely a concept for now. Do not believe them. This is the new Audi A9, a coupe A8 to go toe-to-toe with the Mercedes S-Class Coupe. However, besides being a preview to a new  model, the Prologue is also a showcase. A showcase towards Audi’s new design language, and a whole new interpretation of in-car entertainment.

audi-prologue-show-car-designboom01

The Prologue is 40mm shorter and 70mm longer than the production A8. The current concept is powered by a twin-turbo 4.0 litre V8  producing 597 bhp, and two torque figures. As standard it produces 516 lb/ft of torque, with that figure rising to 553 lb/ft using an overboost function, which works  during short bursts of full acceleration.

All this power is transferred to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox, making the Prologue capable of hitting 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. So definitely not slow.

audi-prologue-concept-rear-three-quarters

Despite all this power, the engine has been designed to be as efficient as possible, with cylinder deactivation and a 48-volt electrical system. All this tech enables the Prologue to chieve a claimed 32.7mpg and emit just 199g/km of CO2. Most of this tech will not be limited to just the A9 but will also make its way to the next generation A8 too.

The most impressive part of this car, besides its design, is the interior. Audi have set the standard for premium interiors, almost overshadowing its rivals. The Prologue is no exception. The instrument cluster, as is the norm with most premium cars nowadays, has been replaced with a screen, displaying all the relevant information to the driver, such as speed, revs, and navigation. However, what makes this interior especially noteworthy is the fact the interior is a series of touchscreens along the rest of the dashboard. There is also a touchscreen which rises from near the gearlever. This rising screen acts almost as the command centre of the infotainment system. Overall its a somewhat different interpretation of a premium interior.

interior prologue

 

Finally, this car is meant to usher in a new design language for Audi, which will find itself on the next generation A8, A9, A6 and A7. Audi are claiming that they want more differentiation in design between their models, in order for the general public to better distinguish between their models.

Get 1TB free Google Drive space with your Chromebook

Get 1TB free Google Drive space with your Chromebook

Screenshot 2014-11-22 at 5.56.01 PM

As part of a holiday sales initiative Google is giving away 1TB of free Google Drive space for 2 years to any Chromebook bought during the holiday season, or any Chromebook bought recently. I don’t know how recent is recent enough for Google, but I redeemed the offer from my Dell Chromebook 11 (purchases in July) with no issues.

If you already have a Chromebook hit the source link below from it and enjoy a 1TB of cloud storage!

PS. The offer can also be redeemed from a Chromebox.

Source: GoogleVia: Android Police

Microsoft’s Sway Commercial Brings It Into The Post-Windows World

Microsoft’s Sway Commercial Brings It Into The Post-Windows World

SwayAdwatch

Microsoft, right now, is both incredibly successful and very in trouble. Google’s Chromebooks are slowly eating away at Microsoft’s Windows licence sales, and Google’s apps and services are cradles snatching startups before Microsoft can lock them into their ecosystem.

But these issues are mere scratches compared to the gangrenous limb that is mobile. Microsoft has sucked at mobile from the day Apple launched the iPhone. 5 years later the markets sealed up tight by Android and iOS, with Windows Phone a very distant second.

The problems have gotten to the point where new leadership was required, with Steve Ballmer standing down and Satya Nadella chosen in his stead. Nadella’s vision is in stark contrast with Ballmer’s, pushing Microsoft further into services and moving past Windows – for better or worse. And this, their first commercial for Sway, a productivity app and platform is just that. On a whole it’s your bog standard system commercial showing people doing different stuff in pleasing shots and to the tune of calm tunes.

But the first device you see is an iPhone 5/S, and the an iPad features prominently in the same space as a Surface Pro 3 and Windows notebook, while one can also argue building on Apple’s market push for the iPad as the creator and creative’s tool.

If this is the new Microsoft we are living in very exciting times. Very exciting times indeed.

The Mercedes Maybach S600; The Dictator’s Mercedes is back!

The Mercedes Maybach S600; The Dictator’s Mercedes is back!

The Mercedes S-Class was hardly lacking in the luxury department to begin with.  However, a potential client obviously told them that their flagship was not quite expensive enough, and went off to buy a Rolls Royce or a Bentley. So Mercedes, having a history of making cars that made Liberace’s bedroom look like a monastery, decided to respond, with the resurrection of the Maybach name.

The "I have more money than you" brand is back! Sort of.
The “I have more money than you” brand is back! Sort of.

Essentially its a stretched S-Class with a V12 engine. And when I say stretched, I really do mean stretched. This car is just over eight inches longer than the  long-wheelbase S600. Those eight inches have been added to the rear occupant’s area for the true business class feeling. However, things do not just end there.

This car will be sold at a premium to the current S-Class flagship, so they need to somehow justify the extra cash. So, the interior has had a full once over, covering every part of the dashboard with leather, and the finest embroidery ever. They’ve even included throw pillows!

You know you have succeeded in life when you've got throw pillows in your car.
You know you have succeeded in life when you’ve got throw pillows in your car.

As you can see, the interior is quite… magnificent. You get quilted perforated leather everywhere,  all four seats have a “hot-stone” massage function, so even Alfred can get comfy on long distances.  The rear seats recline should you need some rest between oil deals.  Then there is the usual wealth of tech to keep you occupied with either work or play. There’s also a fridge at he back to keep your Gout de Diamant chilled for when you take over your next country.

This will not be the final variant of the S-Class. Besides this, the S-Class long wheelbase and the Coupe, there will also be a convertible version and a ‘Pullman’ version. The Pullman will be the limousine version of the S-Class, seating up to six individuals. Maybe the Pullman is Mercedes’ idea of a people carrier.

Price you ask? Well no definite answers, but you probably couldn’t afford it even if I could tell you.

 

The Return of Japanese Muscle

The Return of Japanese Muscle

Back when I first got into cars, I had an almost unnatural fascination with three Japanese cars; The Mitsubishi Evo IX, the Subaru Impreza and the Honda S2000. They had a certain “everyday enjoyment” about them. They were built to go round corners with zest and verve as well as take you to work and back day in, day out. Gradually the Evo IX and the Impreza were replaced , the S2000 ceased production and my interest in Japanese performance dwindled.

The Japanese have a great history making performance and great-handling vehicles. Cars like the Supra, MX-5, the Skyline and the RX-7 and the NSX were just some of the many highlights of Japanese automotive history. However, things over the last few years have gone rather quiet. The major Japanese manufacturers, particularly Toyota and Honda, seem to have lost their way and have resorted to making affordable, well-made but dreary machines. Now however, it seems that  samurais have re-sharpened their blades and are ready to re-take their status as makers of all things fast and fun.

Toyota began their renaissance with the GT-86. When it came out, I have to admit, I was not interested in the car. Part of the reason for this was because of the many concepts they created on the same car. A Motor Show would not go by without a “new” GT-86 concept to show off. By the time the GT-86 came into production, I was less than remotely interested in this car.

Beside that, the car just did not set my pulse racing. It is not an ugly car by any stretch of the imagination, and its not a slow car either, but it is neither a fast car nor a particularly good looking one. The GT-86 just is not an inspiring car, it brings nothing new to the table, but rather aims to take a tried and tested formula, in order to gain praise from journalists. The Alfa 4C, or Peugeot RCZ R intrigue me more.   However, in March 2014, Toyota created a concept car to tempt even a thoroughbred Europhile such as myself; the FT-1 Concept.

Ft1 front
A video game personified?

It is not graceful. It is not elegant. Its a collaborative design between Toyota’s California’s design Centre and the Sony Gran Tourismo game designers. It certainly looks like it should belong on a video game with its outlandish lines and exaggerated splitters. As of yet, its still a concept, but Toyota execs want to make this car a reality. Rumour has it, Toyota are co-developing a hybrid powertrain with BMW which shall be utilised in this FT-1 and the next generation BMW Z4. I say scrap the hybrid powertrain and put in a twin-turbo V6 to make it compete with Nissan’s GTR.

Next up in the Japanese arsenal is a personal favourite of mine, the Honda NSX. This one has been a long time coming, two years since the concept arrived if memory serves me correctly. The original is still a highly revered car by enthusiasts. The great Ayrton Senna had one.  The new car is claimed to have a twin-turbo V6, with an electric motor kicking around somewhere,with no manual transmission available. It is 2014 after all.  The targeted kerb weight is 1400 kg, through the use of aluminium and carbon fibre. Details are still exceptionally sketchy. But just look at it!

honda-nsx-concept-2
I bet in white it will look like a Storm Trooper.

Last time I wrote about the NSX , I claimed it could be the new Audi R8. I stand by that claim. Its design has not aged at all, in fact it looks better than ever.  There is even talk of making a convertible version.

Now we turn to Mazda. What is Mazda remembered for? Ah yes, the RX-7. The good ol’ days of the Wankel Rotary engine. This thing is still a hit  with car enthusiasts even today. In the mid-2000s, Mazda tried to reinvent the RX brand with the RX-8, which, compared to the RX-7, was a bit of a flop. The car itself was great, but it didn’t capture the imagination of petrolheads quite as well as the RX-7 did. These days Mazda admits it screwed up with the RX-8 and want to bring back the magic of the RX-7. The rumours are that Mazda want to retain the rotary engine, but make it a hybrid rotary powertrain. While as such nothing has been mentioned by Mazda, the rumours are coming from authoritative  sources who don’t usually get such claims wrong.

A fan sketch, but a cool interpretation for 2014.
A fan sketch, but a cool interpretation for 2014.

A car worth mentioning, which is a bit of an old school approach, is the Subaru WRX STI. A classic rally special. An easy setup; 2.5 litre turbo four-pot producing 305 bhp , four-wheel drive a six-speed manual gearbox and a limited-slip diff.  The specs are not important. The important news is that the WRX is back to being a saloon and the horrid hatchback is finally dead.

Scooby is back!
Scooby is back! 

Finally, the car which has been carrying the torch for Japanese performance for these past few years; the Nissan GT-R. This bad boy has gone through many stages of modifications, making it a little lighter, a little faster and a whole lot more technical.  Its powered by a non-hybrid (there is a god) twin-turbo V6 producing about 545 bhp in standard form.  There are various factory upgrades can get than number up to about 600 bhp, and some aftermarket add-ons to hit a billion horsepower probably. The amount of times I have read of GT-Rs hitting extraordinary horsepower figures is almost inconceivable. This engine seems to be able to take quite a beating.

Godzilla.
Godzilla.

These are the Japanese titans to take on the world. However there are a  few other Japanese sportscars that I would like to see, such as a new Honda S2000, a new Mitsubishi Evo, and definitely a new Nissan 370Z.  Those cars would definitely complete the set, taking Japanese cars back from being boring and sensible to being completely unhinged. Deservedly so.

 

Inbox Impressions: A Supercharged Gmail?

Inbox Impressions: A Supercharged Gmail?

Google Inbox

Inbox is blue and Gmail is red. End of article, thanks for reading. I should that I’m a terrible joke-maker. That sentence was the polar opposite of what was expected of me from Emmanuel.

Inbox is exactly that. A polar opposite of its 10 year old brother, Gmail. First off, Inbox radiates an aura of what I need to do, it adds a sense of purpose to your emails kind of like a to-do-list. It filters your e-mails into a number of categories or as Google likes to call them ‘bundles’. Emails you receive from colleagues, newsletters and that Nigerian prince who happens to be your relative, are all tidily bundled at your convenience. Don’t worry that last one is still filtered into junk mail automatically, I hope.

Highlights really caught my eye. It turned my endless list of emails into a kind of Twitter or Facebook news feed, making scanning through them a doddle. The best part is that you can preview the content from your inbox if it contains images or any other related media before you even open it, so basically you can already determine whether it’s useful to you or not. It’s convenient, but it’s also extremely creepy. Privacy probably isn’t that big an issue any more.

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Honda’s “The Other Side” commercial is 2 in 1

Honda’s “The Other Side” commercial is 2 in 1

The Other Side

The Honda Civic is two cars. One the one hand it’s a dependable Japanese family hatchback with 5 doors, economical engines, and high safety ratings. On the other hand it’s a high performance tuner’s dream hot hatch with a fan base rarely seen for a car that costs less than the house I’m writing this post in. In other words, both the Civic and Civic Type R are both a big deal, albeit to different people.

What’s the other side?

Honda’s solution has been to play both adverts at once, both of which have a similar plot and the same character – just different settings – and to let the viewer switch between them at any point in time. At any time you can take a look at the other side.

The first commercial focuses on the practicality of the Civic in everyday use by presenting the most mundane car use case of all: the school run. A father picking up two kids from school and driving them home safely and comfortably.

For the second commercial think Drive, only add an exciting car and lose the awesome leather jacket (and Ryan Gosling). The protagonist here is a getaway driver for a robbery and drives the Type R as we can only wish – hard and fast.

The cinematography in both commercials is beautiful, with images well both well composed and excellently filmed. I love the tonal difference too. In the ‘dad’ commercial it’s not only lighter (because it’s day) but the lighting is extremely soft and slightly over exposed and slightly warmer than you’d think, adding to the notion of comfort and safety.

In the ‘Drive’ commercial it’s extremely dark but shadow plays an important part in adding to the sense of danger and mystery. The car, however’s, always pretty well lit during exterior shots. Then again, you wouldn’t want it shrouded in darkness either, would you?

Unfortunately I can’t embed the commercial here, so click on the Source link below!

Source: YouTubeVia Jalopnik

Google Releases Google Play Movies in Malta, Right After Play Music

Google Releases Google Play Movies in Malta, Right After Play Music

Screenshot 2014-11-05 at 11.50.25 AM

Just a day after launching Google Play Music and Play Music All Access in Malta Google’s taken the wraps off of Google Play Movies.

The service brings a new tab to the Play Store on mobile and web, of course, and users can both buy and rent movies from the store and view them on the phone, tablet, or PC. If you’ve got a Nexus 5 you can grab an HD copy of Gravity for free!

Anyone want to make a bet on if anything’s coming today? I’m guessing Play Books, but we don’t have till we have it.