How in-app search is going to keep Android awesome — and Google in control


Google (s GOOG) is about to take a big step towards connecting the web with the apps on your phone. The company is scheduled to roll out in-app search, including app content in your mobile search results, by mid-November. In-app search is for now limited to about a dozen launch partners — but eventually, it could be key to transforming the Android ecosystem, while at the same time cementing Google’s role as a gatekeeper.

Google first announced in-app search when it introduced Android 4.4 aka Kit Kat two weeks ago, but the feature will be included in Google’s Search app and thus available on previous Android versions as well. Here’s how it works:

Let’s say you’re looking to rent an apartment, and you’re searching for open listings via Google. One of the first links is going to be a result from Trulia — and if you have Trulia’s Android app…

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Inside the Shapeways factory: a Willy Wonka wonderland for 3D printing (photos)


Twenty hours a day, seven days a week, 13 3D printers — whose combined value reaches well into the millions of dollars — chug along at the Shapeways factory in Queens, New York. Since its founding in 2007, the company has grown into a go-to resource for people to 3D print their high-quality or everyday objects.

I had the chance last week to step inside the factory, where printers turn out hundreds of objects a day. (Check out my interview with Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen here.) Then those objects are finished, packaged and sent out to people all over the world.

Shapeways factory

Each order begins as a digital file. Shapeways workers go over each file and determine if it is possible to 3D print the design.

Then, objects are assigned to a print batch. A worker organizes them into either a flat surface or a stacked cube, depending on…

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A week with the Jawbone UP24: One of the best activity trackers gets better


I like to think I’m a relatively health-conscious kind of guy. I go to the gym a few times a week, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge almost daily, sleep upwards of seven hours a night and eat boatloads of kale. But it’s snowing in New York as I write this, which means holiday party season is fast approaching, and I’m not looking to increase pant sizes as I prepare for hibernation. Thankfully, I’ve been wearing the new Jawbone UP24 for about a week now, and it’s really made me re-evaluate some of my fitness-related decisions. I’m still probably going to eat that last mini quiche, but I’ll also think about walking back over the bridge to get home instead of hopping in a cab.

Something old, something new

You wouldn’t know the UP24 is a different band just by looking at it. Physically it appears virtually identical to the previous…

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Ericsson: Global smartphone penetration will reach 60% in 2019


In 2019 there will be 9.4 billion mobile subscriptions around the world, and 5.6 billion of them, or 60 percent, will be linked to a smartphone, according to new study by mobile network vendor Ericsson(s eric). If Ericsson’s predictions are true, that means we’re going to see a huge expansion of the smartphone in the developing world.

Currently smartphones account for 25 percent to 30 percent of global mobile subscriptions — totaling 1.9 billion devices at the end of 2013 — but they’re fastest growing segment of mobile device, representing 55 percent of devices sold in the third quarter, Ericsson found in its newest Mobility Report, which combines its own ConsumerLab trend research, metrics from its customers’ global networks and outside research data.

Ericsson Mobility 2013 Smartphone data

Today smartphones tend to be the playthings of rich countries and rich people in developing countries, but as smartphones proliferate they’ll become more accessible to a greater amount…

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Here come the smart homes: 21.5M in Europe and North America by 2017


After a slow start, smart home system installations in Europe and North America will hit 21.5 million in 2017 suggests Berg Insight on Monday. That forecast represents a huge jump from the estimated 2.3 million smart home installations expected this year. What’s driving the anticipated growth? Less expensive systems, for one and improved usability — thanks to mobile apps — for another:

“In recent years, a new breed of more affordable whole-home systems has emerged on the market, relying on smartphone apps as a primary user interface. This has enabled more user-friendly systems and price tags in the hundreds of dollars, which is making whole-home automation accessible to the vast majority of the population.”

Having built up my own smart home system in pieces, starting in 2010, I can certainly appreciate Berg’s thinking here. In the past, “smart home” was a phrase you’d only hear from geeks like me or…

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Google starts testing ART, a potential replacement for Dalvik in Android


After a 2010 spat over how Java works in Android(s goog) with Oracle(s orcl), Google is moving on to a new way for apps run on mobile devices. Dubbed ART, the new runtime environment is available as a preview option in Android 4.4. Developers are encouraged to try it and provide feedback for ART and if you have Android 4.4, you can test it yourself although you may not see much difference just yet.

On a sparse web page for developers, Google said the new runtime is experimental and a work in progress. You can enable it in Android 4.4 through the Settings, Developer Options menu. I did just that on a Nexus 5 and after a reboot, Android spent about 10 minutes optimizing my apps to run. I don’t yet see any difference in the apps.

Currently, Android apps run in what’s called Dalvik, a runtime environment that…

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