Lytro caused a lot of excitement among photography enthusiasts when it launched in 2011. Billed as the third evolution of the camera after film and digital, Lytro’s unique “light-field” sensor allowed snappers to “shoot first, focus later”, as well as other “computational photography” tricks such as shifting perspective or add 3D elements to an image after the photo is taken.
However, the Silicon Valley start-up’s first camera was aimed not at hardcore photographers, but at a mass market. The $500, flashlight-shaped device was described by the FT’s Chris Nuttall as “an amusement for now”, due to issues such as a small screen/viewfinder and counter-intuitive controls, even if he predicted the underlying technology was “likely to change photography radically in the long run”.
Three years and one CEO change later, Lytro is back with a new device, the Illum. It is aimed more directly at those snap-happy early adopters, professionals and “aspiring amateurs” who were most enthusiastic about its technology in the first place but perhaps found version one fell short of their hopes. Read more
While Silicon Valley races ahead into a future filled with drones, robots and wearable technology, the rest of the US watches on with a mixture of hope and anxiety.
Americans are optimistic about the long-term prospects for the next 50 years of technological and scientific advances, according to a survey of 1,001 people by the Pew Research Center in February, but more nervous about the immediate future. Read more
Dropbox chief Drew Houston is preparing for life as a public company executive.
In an interview with the FT after Wednesday’s launch of Carousel, a new photo-sharing app, and a suite of other new products, Mr Houston didn’t even wait for the inevitable question about an initial public offering to address the topic.
“We will continue to surround the company with great advisors, board members and other folks who have public company experience,” he said. “I’m not worried about the tactical side of operating as a public company.” Read more
Greg Christie, the Apple designer who was a key part of the team behind the original iPhone, will leave the company later this year, a spokesman confirmed to the FT.
Apple blog 9to5Mac, which broke the story earlier on Wednesday, suggested that Mr Christie had fallen out with Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of design. Read more
Uber, the ambitious start-up best known for delivering people, now wants to deliver anything that can fit in a rucksack. The private driver and taxi-hailing app will on Tuesday add cycle couriers to its New York fleet with what it calls Uber Rush. Read more
Want to hear a Silicon Valley joke? Two geek billionaires walk into a coffee shop and nobody notices.
There’s no punchline. This actually happened a couple of weeks ago when I was in Mountain View and the co-founders of WhatsApp popped into their local for a brew. Despite being full of start-ups, nobody in the Red Rock Café seemed to recognise the pair who had just sold their app to Facebook for upwards of $16bn.
WhatsApp has almost 500m active users around the world but many in Silicon Valley’s elite only discovered the chat app when Mark Zuckerberg opened his chequebook. It’s entirely possible that, in the past year, more people here have tried Google Glass, the sci-fi headset that most outside Silicon Valley love to hate, than sent a message on WhatsApp. Read more
Ray-Bans via Instagram
Google has been working hard lately to dampen the constant, rumbling criticism of Glass. First, it issued guidelines on etiquette for its pioneering wearable gadget, warning early adopters: “Don’t be a glasshole.”
Then last week, it decided that the people buying its $1,500 headset weren’t glassholes after all, trying to dispel ten “myths” about the prototype product: Glass really isn’t a “distraction from the real world” or “the perfect surveillance device”, it insisted in a blogpost.
The ground suitably prepared, Google has now made a much more meaningful step towards mainstream acceptance: it is partnering with the maker of Ray-Ban and Oakley frames to make Glass fashionable. Read more
It would be easy to glance at Samsung’s new Milk Music service and dismiss it as another copycat. The personalised internet radio service for Galaxy smartphone owners that launches in the US on Friday is, in essence, pretty similar to Pandora or Apple’s iTunes Radio, which launched last year.
But while maintaining feature parity is an important if unglamorous part of the hypercompetitive smartphone market, Milk does bring something new to Samsung Galaxy: great software design. Read more