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In Brief

Google Search camera commands

Google added a new function to Google Search for Android on Wednesday that lets users speak to their phone and open the camera application in a specific mode. By saying “OK Google, take a photo,” the camera app will open for image capture while an “OK Google, record a video,” command sets the camera up for movie taking. The additional function is another example of Google using voice input on mobile devices, something that will come in very handy for the company’s Android Wear platform that will power smartwatches.

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In Brief

iPhone 5C
photo: Apple

Apple is expected to launch an 8GB model of its iPhone 5c handset as early as tomorrow, based on a Monday report from Engadget. The site has an alleged document from O2 Germany suggesting the entry-level edition will cost 60 Euros less than the current 16 GB iPhone 5c. Engadget also has an image depicting an 8GB version of the phone. If true, the move could support expectations that its iPhone 5c hasn’t been selling well and the company is looking to boost sales by making the phone more accessible to those with tighter budgets.

In Brief

After debuting on Nokia Lumias with PureView cameras, the company is bringing its image refocus feature to all Lumia phones running Windows Phone 8. The software takes an image from the camera and produces an interactive picture where you can choose and change the focal point. This demonstration pic illustrates the refocusing function after the image was taken. The visual effect is similar to the standalone Lytro plenoptic camera that debuted in 2012.

In Brief

After a long wait, I won’t have to use separate apps to control my Nest thermostat and my smart home; neither will you if you have an Insteon system as the heart of your house. Insteon announced compatibility with the Nest on Thursday saying that if you have an Insteon hub, you can add a Nest to the list of remote-controlled devices. You’ll also need the Insteon app for iOS or Android of course, but once you have it, you can control your Nest along with your lights, doors and other smart objects in a single app.

In Brief

google_wallet_orders

Google added a new Orders feature to its Google Wallet software for Android and iOS on Wednesday. The updated app will now track orders that were paid for through Wallet, providing online tracking status notifications on delivery and a history of all prior orders. Android Central notes that package tracking through Wallet was already available through the web version, so the new features have migrated down to mobile devices. Personally, I use Slice on Android and iOS for online package tracking but I’d consider using the new Orders feature in Wallet if I made all payments through Google’s software.

On The Web

One of the first reviews of the $179 Asus Chromebox appeared online Wednesday, coming from the well-respected Anand Lal Shimpi at AnandTech. While Shimpi rightly notes the current limitations of Google’s Chrome OS as desktop platform, he finds that what the small computer does do it does well. With solid performance and general strength against viruses, Shimpi says the Asus Chromebox is easy to recommend for those wanting to live in Google Chrome. We discuss the Asus Chromebox further on this week’s Chrome Show podcast.

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