Google and Other Tech Giants Back Augmented-Reality Developer Magic Leap

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Florida-based augmented-reality startup Magic Leap has generated $542 million in a Series B financing round, and Google’s contribution is at the head of the pack. Tech giant Qualcomm is also pitching in, along with many others including Legendary Entertainment, Vulcan Capital and Obvious Ventures.

The company, founded in 2011, hopes to replace traditional smartphone screens with virtual-reality interfaces. Magic Leap founder, CEO and president Rony Abovitz promises he can deliver mind-blowing “cinematic reality” and “revolutionize” the way people communicate, but this round of funding was raised without unveiling a single product.

Magic Leap has remained tight lipped about its products, but the company’s website features images of a baby elephant cupped in a person’s hand, and a submarine floating above a street. Speculation suggests the company plans to develop a wearable device which tracks users’ eyeballs and projects images onto them. A technique called “object occlusion”, paired with the manipulation of depth perception, would allow for virtual objects to be added to what the wearer would see naturally, both in front of and behind objects.

Google itself, rather than Google Ventures or Google Capital, is behind the investment, sparking rumors the internet company may be hoping to align or eventually partner with Magic Leap. Google has appointed Sudar Pichai (senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps) and Don Harrison (vice president of corporate development) to Magic Leap’s board in an observer role as part of the deal.

Google Creates Guide for Users Switching from Apple

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The world’s leading mobile device creators are constantly campaigning to win users over and steal business from each other. With the upcoming release of its Nexus 6 phone and Nexus 9 tablet, Google has amped up its tactics. Now, for users disappointed with Apple’s latest releases, Google has released a guide for switching over to Android.

For unhappy Android users, Apple has posted a similar guide for switching over to iOS.

The guide for switching to Android is split into four categories, covering transferring photos and music, contacts, apps and Gmail settings. Apple’s is slightly more involved with six parts, covering moving books, PDFs and other documents from an Android phone or tablet. Whether or not these guides will cause any shift in usership remains to be seen.

Android’s latest model will be released in the near future, and features Android’s latest operating system called Lollipop.

FCC Approves Inquiry into 5G Technology

SONY DSCThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has unanimously approved an inquiry into 5G technology. The investigation will seek to determine if high-frequency airwaves previously considered to be unusable may in fact revolutionize mobile technology.

“We are moving from networks designed for analog voice to networks designed for high-speed digital data,” said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. “So how do we meet these demands? We look up. Way, way, up. To infinity and beyond.”

Frequencies higher than 24 gigahertz have gone unused in the past, as they could not handle cell phone signals. These frequencies cannot carry signals over long distances and are easily stopped by barriers, but companies are currently developing new technologies which could make these frequencies usable. If reliable technology is developed, these frequencies could handle data as fast as 10 gigabits per second.

Google has asked the FCC for permission to begin testing extremely high frequencies, which could eventually be incorporated into Google Fiber. There is no current definition of 5G speeds, but it could very well lead to a new generation of technology and mobile devices.

Facebook Reportedly Readying Anonymous App

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Facebook will reportedly be releasing a new app enabling users to post comments and interact without using their real names. The standalone app will allow anonymous sharing through the use of a pseudonym.

This news comes hot on the heels of the public backlash from the transgendered community regarding Facebook’s handling of their “real name” policy. The social network said it would be changing their policy requiring users to go by their real name, but did not provide specifics.

Under development for about a year, the anonymous app will create a venue in which users can discuss topics and express opinions they may not want to share using their real names.

Whether or not the app will connect in any way to Facebook’s main app is not clear at this time. Some rumors suggest the app could have a health aspect, after recent reports the social network would be launching a health-focused app.

Google Voice Supports MMS from Major Carriers

Google-Voice-LogoIf you’re a Google Voice user, you might be glad to hear the company has added MMS support from “nearly 100 different North American carriers.” In the US, this includes big names such as AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, but Verizon is not on board. Canada’s big three – Telus, Bell and Rogers – will all offer MMS/Google Voice compatibility.

This means your Google Voice number can now receive in-line MMS photos from friends on the networks of the included carriers.

Google associate Alex Wiesen subtly called Verizon out on their failure to join the list of carriers by saying, “If you’re a carrier, and you want to enable MMS support for Google Voice, please let us know. We’re big fans of text messaging interoperability.”