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google now desktop

After months of appearing in experimental and beta versions of Chrome, Google is rolling out Google Now notifications in its mainstream edition of the Chrome browser for Windows and OS X. If you’re signed in with your Google account when using Chrome, you’ll begin to see contextual notifications from the Google Now service, such as when to leave for appointments due to real-time traffic data or reminders for favorite television programs. The Google Now service already supports mobile devices and Chromebooks and will also be the basis of smartwatches built using the Android Wear software platform.

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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.

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.

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