TechSummit Rewind 109

This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

Google launches Trips personalized travel planner


Google has launched Trips, a new app designed to help you better plan your travels. It pulls in data from Google Maps and crowdsourced contributions from other travelers to offer a personalized travel guide that helps you keep track of your trip, reservations, points of interest, tourist attractions, restaurants, and more.

On the home screen, you’ll see a search box with a “where do you want to go?” prompt for planning new trips, and other cards to help you keep track of current and upcoming travels.

Each city you visit during a trip can have its own tab within the larger “Trip” section, and a simple toggle switch is all that stands between you downloading all the information about that destination for offline use. On each city’s screen, a variety of colorful cards help you jump into various sections like “Saved Places,” “Day Plans,” “Food & Drink,” “Getting around,” “Things to do,” “Reservations,” and more.

According to Google, Trips can show you the most popular day plans and itineraries for 200 cities worldwide. This information is based on historic trip data from other travelers, which Google assembles into lists that includes the most popular sights and attractions.

You can add a spot you want to visit to your plans, and tell the app if you only have the morning/afternoon available for the outing. The app can then show you other attractions near the original spot, so you can take it other sights worth seeing without having to commute too far.

There’s also some automation involved: you can tap and pin a spot you have to visit to your itinerary, and Google Trips will automatically fill the rest of the day for you. Meanwhile, you can also tap a “magic wand” button for more options of nearby sights, then pin those you like to further customize your itinerary

The app can also track flight, hotel, car, and restaurant reservations.

Trips also automatically gathers reservations from your Gmail and organizes them into trips on your behalf.

Google Trips is available now on Android and iOS.

Facebook buys Nascent Objects


Facebook has acquired Nascent Objects, a small Bay Area startup that offers what the company calls a “modular electronics platform” – essentially a software problem to help expedite the process for building physical gadgets, including 3D-printed hardware.

Nascent will join Facebook’s Building 8, the company’s research lab headed by former Google advanced technology and products team head Regina Dugan.

“Together, we hope to create hardware at a speed that’s more like software.”

-Regina Dugan, in a video posted Monday

According to a Facebook spokesperson, Nascent Objects founder and CEO Baback Elmieh is joining Facebook along with “other key members” of the startup.

Thalmic Labs raises $120M from Intel, Amazon


Thalmic Labs, the Waterloo, Ontario-based wearable technology company, has announced a $120 million Series B funding round led by Intel Capital, the Amazon Alexa Fund, and Fidelity Investments Canada.

“This investment will be used to fuel continued growth and development of future products already in the pipeline, and will help us realize our vision of a new era of computing, where the real and digital worlds will blend seamlessly.”

-Stephen Lake, Thalmic Labs CEO & cofounder

“In the three years since Intel Capital first invested in Thalmic, they’ve made tremendous breakthroughs in technology. These innovations augment Intel’s strategy for wearable technology and align with our vision to bring new and exciting experiences to users.”

-Josh Walden, Intel New Technology group senior vice president & general manager

Oracle unveils new cloud infrastructure


Oracle has unveiled its second generation of cloud infrastructure for third-party developers to run their applications in the company’s data centers at Oracle’s OpenWorld conference in San Francisco.

The Dense IO Shape, one particular virtual-machine type, offers 28.8TB, 512GB, and 36 cores, at a price of $5.40/hour. This product offers more than 10 times the input-output capacity of Amazon Web Services, specifically the i2.8xlarge instance, according to executive chairman and chief technology officer Larry Ellison.

“Amazon’s lead is over. Amazon’s going to have serious competition going forward.”

-Larry Ellison, Oracle executive chairman and chief technology officer

The new offering takes advantage of regions, each of which contains three separate “availability domains,” or connected data centers.

Ellison “respects” Amazon for being the “first mover” in the cloud infrastructure business, launching its EC2 service for renting our VM instances by the hour in 2006.

“Now, we’re aggressively moving into infrastructure, and we have a new generation of data centers that we’re building around the world.”

-Larry Ellison

Ellison also announced Cloud@Customer, a new service that lets customers place identical servers to Oracle’s cloud infrastructure in their own on-premises infrastructure. According to Ellison, these servers have the same pricing structure as their cloud counterparts.

Twitter removes photos, videos, GIFs, polls, quote tweets from 140-character limit

The reception desk at Twitter's San Francisco headquarters. (Image: Aaron Durand/Twitter)
The reception desk at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters. (Image: Aaron Durand/Twitter)

Photos, videos, GIFs, polls, and quote tweets no longer count towards Twitter’s 140-character limit. However, links remain in the county.

The company is also testing out some replies changes, like no longer counting @names towards the character count.

Google Photos adds themed ‘concept movies,’ in-app sharing

Google Photos

Google Photos is launching “concept movies,” which are algorithmically generated videos based on their content.

The first concept movie is “They Grow Up So Fast,” and it organizes your children’s hundreds of Google Photos appearances into movies. According to Google, only your best photos will be chosen, disqualifying any images where your kids are blinking or out of focus.

The company’s also following up with “Summer of Smiles” on Thursday, which finds your happiest photos from the summer and stitches them into a montage. Soon after, there’ll be “Special Day,” which turns recent uploads from weddings, birthdays, and other celebrations into movies. Depending on the amount of content Google uses, each movie runs between 20 seconds and two minutes.

“You can imagine where this goes. All the things that people do, we can make special movies around them.”

-Tim Novikoff, Google product manager

This is part of a broader update to Google Photos that adds in-app sharing. If your friends and family have the app installed, you can share your photos and videos with them through the app’s share sheet. Tap it and your contacts will appear below the traditional sheet, and any contacts with Photos installed will have an app icon next to their face.

Once you share with your friends, they’ll receive a Google Photos notifications. Opening it will unlock everything you’ve sent them, and from there they can add the photos to their own libraries or leave a comment. You can also share with contacts who don’t use Photos by receiving a link to the web album via SMS or email.


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