Google has been busy lately with announcements around YouTube, Lollipop, and cancer fighting nanoparticle pills, while elsewhere drones are being used to map a disease in Borneo, a journalist tries to outwit a hacker, and a Kickstarter project to build a phone that does literally nothing.
All these and more make an appearance in this week’s tech round up.
Drones tracking disease
The ingenious uses for drones keeps growing with researchers in Borneo using them to map areas of the country affected by a type of malaria parasite.
The disease typically infects macaque monkeys, but thanks to mosquitos it has jumped species to humans over the past few years.
The plan is the mapping, via a small camera-carrying drone called a senseFly eBee, will help shed some light on why the parasite is spreading from monkey to man at greater frequency. Locals and certain macaques were fitted with GPS tracking devices as well.
"What we're doing is creating a detailed map, which we can then superimpose or overlay with the human and the macaque movement," said Chris Drakeley, a professor of infection and immunity at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK, to Live Science.
Can you outwit a hacker?
In a bit of a companion piece to last week’s look at how a journalist tried to become a hacker, a journalist for the Telegraph hired a hacker to see if he could penetrate her systems.
As the writer of the article knew she was being targeted, she took all the precautions and was extra vigilant, but still managed to get a Trojan on her laptop.
How did they do it? Read the insightful article to find out. It’s a telling reminder than even at our most alert, we’re all susceptible.
There was a lot of Google news this week. Here are some highlights.
Popping in a pill filled with nanoparticles to locate cancerous cells sounds farfetched, but Google[X], the tech giant’s long term project investigation arm, have announced they are already experimenting with intravenous machines in pill form and connected to a wearable device.
Still many years off being available to public, Google’s head of life sciences, Andrew Conrad, announced the exciting project at the Wall Street Journal Digital conference.
"Nanoparticles are the nexus between biology and engineering," Conrad said. "Because the core of these particles is magnetic, you'll be able to call them somewhere... just by putting a magnet on your wrist, you'll be able to trap them and ask them what they saw."
Google[X] have already developed health related initiatives in the form of a contact lens that detects glucose levels for diabetics, and utensils that help manage hand tremors in Parkinson’s patients.
Premium YouTube on the way
Taking a note from the Spotify model, YouTube may soon have an ad-free subscriber option alongside its traditional free, advertising funded version.
Susan Wojcick, a Google executive, said it was considering this in order to give users more “choice”.
“It’s near-term,” she says. “There are going to be cases where people are going to say, ‘I don’t want to see the ads'. We’re thinking about how to give users options.”
Licking up Lollipop
The new Android OS, Lollipop, is rumoured to be coming next week (unverified claims suggest 3 November), so now may be a good time for those with compatible devices to brush up on it.
The Huffington Post have compiled a list of new features said to be included, such as a battery-consumption checker and a saving mode that can add 90 minutes of power.
It will also have a guest user mode so you can lend it to a pal without fears they will have access to all your private goodies, and individual apps can be hidden from the screen.
The smartphone devolution
Think your phone does too many things? Perhaps you would prefer a phone that does nothing. Literally nothing.
The NoPhone looks like a phone, but has no wires, screen, or battery, you can’t download any apps on it, and you certainly can’t take any selfies on it.
Why does this exist? Well the Kickstarter page states: “Phone addiction is real. And it's everywhere. It's ruining your dates. It's distracting you at concerts. It's disrupting you in movie theatres. It's clogging up sidewalks. Now, there is a real solution.
“Introducing the NoPhone, a technology-free alternative to constant hand-to-phone contact.”
The phone has well surpassed its $5,000 Kickstarter goal, with $15,000 pledged.
Here’s a prototype being reviewd:
Apps of the week
Having multiple devices is great, except that when you’re switching between the phone and the tablet, you can’t pick up where you left off.
Baton, currently being developed by San Francisco start-up Nextbit, is an Android app that runs in the background and keeps all data and apps running on a cloud, meaning you can switch seamlessly between devices and carry on what you’re doing.
While still in Beta testing, once released to the public this could quickly become a must have app for Android device lovers.
Created by suicide prevention charity Samaritans, this web app keeps an eye on Twitter for any signs someone may be struggling to cope.
The app peruses Twitter for specific keywords and phrases that could indicate the author having troubles, and provides tips on what to do next, sends them a message asking if they're okay, and also asking if they want to arrange a face-to-face meeting.
The group hopes the app will give people a “second chance to see potentially worrying Tweets, which might have otherwise been missed.”
This app takes the wearisome task of button pushing out of using a calculator. Simply hover your camera over a math problem and the app will not only solve it, but also show you how it got the answer.
I bet you wish you had one of these while in high school.
Currently available on iOS and Windows, with Android coming early next year.