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Android this week: HTC Desire 8 detailed; Google Now watch in the works; Project Tango launches

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This coming week should have plenty of Android news from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. This past week in the Android(s goog) world wasn’t quiet though. Reported details of the HTC Desire 8 leaked out in advance of MWC. The Desire 8 may be the biggest news from HTC at the show because the company isn’t expected to introduce its next flagship phone until March 25.


That means the Desire 8 will be a more affordable device and the alleged specifications show exactly that: A 1.6 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400, 1.5 GB of memory, 8 GB of internal storage with microSD card expansion, and a 5.5-inch 720p display. The phone also has Boom Sound and a pair of cameras with the rear sensor expected to be 13 megapixels. Apart from the screen size, the Desire 8 is similar to Motorola’s $179 Moto G but with slightly more RAM, a faster version of the same CPU chip and better cameras.

Potentially then, HTC could be looking at a device price at $299 or less, which could help boost sales; something the company desperately needs. And that price off-contract could be desirable for consumers with less disposable income, which is the fastest growing smartphone sales segment in the U.S. I’m also expecting the phone to be marketed heavily in China where there are hundreds of millions that don’t yet have smartphones.

HTC isn’t just counting on mid-range phones to turn things around. This week a report surfaced suggesting the company is working on three different wearables, with at least one launching this year. The most interesting of the three is an HTC watch based around Google Now; the contextual personal assistant software that Google provides to Android, Chrome and Google Glass.

Google Now cards

I’ve been on record saying a Google Now watch could be more innovative and successful than smartwatches that run other apps or act as second screens for a phone. If HTC can be the first to deliver such a device, I think it would enjoy some heaver first-mover status until competitors — or even Google — offered the same.

Google doesn’t currently have a Google Now watch but it did unveil Project Tango this week: An Android developer phone that can sense and see the world around it. Google says the goal of Project Tango is “to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion.”

In order to do that, the company worked with hardware partners to get vision processing and 3D mapping working together in a handset. But Google is just providing the tool; it’s up to developers to see what they can do with Project Tango.

Here’s a video look at what the effort is all about:


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