Is this the return of Google Glass? Magic Leap and Google team up could be bad news for Meta and Apple

We already knew Google was making at least a tentative return to the world of extended reality (XR, a catchall for VR, AR, and MR) with the announcement it’s helping to make the Samsung XR headset. But it could also be looking for another try and with one of its most high-profile flops: Google Glass.

This speculation follows an announcement from Magic Leap that it is partnering with Google to “bring Magic Leap Augmented Reality (AR) expertise and optics leadership together with Google’s technology platforms and collaborate on Extended Reality (XR) solutions and experiences.”

This is hardly a Google Glass confirmation, but it follows a few rumors that Google wants to have another crack at AR specs – including what might have been an accidental leak from its own Google I/O presentation. It also comes after Meta teased its AR glasses project, and with Apple testing the waters with the Vision Pro it would seem the entire industry is chasing an AR trend.

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Even though this partnership is seemingly set in stone we shouldn’t get our hopes up that Google Glass 2 is coming soon. LG and Meta announced plans to partner on XR technology, only for rumors to come out weeks later that they had already parted ways – rumors LG refused to dismiss.

Much like Meta and LG reportedly butted heads in several ways, Google and Magic Leap could also disagree on how best to create an AR device which could lead to their relationship breaking down. 

What could a ‘Google Glass 2’ look like? 

Assuming this partnership does bear fruit, what do we expect to see from Google Glass 2 – or whatever Google wants to call it?

Well design-wise we imagine it’ll look a lot more like a typical pair of specs. While Google Glass’ space-age design might have charmed some, it’s not at all subtle. The obvious camera freaked people out, and it painted a target on wearers as they were clearly wearing expensive tech that would-be thieves could rip from them. And when the battery dies, they’re useless.

Modern smart and AR glasses have some signs they’re more than meets the eye – like thicker arms, and a light that makes it clear when the camera is in use – but in general you wouldn’t know the specs were anything but regular shades unless you’re well-versed in tech. With prescription or shaded lenses, they’re also something you can wear all the time even when they run out of charge.

Orange RayBan Meta Smart Glasses in front of a wall of colorful lenses including green, blue, yellow and pink

The Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses (Image credit: Meta)

As for its features, obviously, AR aspects would be included. To us, this means a HUD with an overlay showing you things like directions pointing you towards your destination, and apps that have you interact with virtual objects as if they’re in the real world.

But the other big feature will most likely be AI. We’ve already seen how the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses can leverage cameras and its AI to help you identify objects, find recipes, translate signs, and generally answer questions you might have by simply talking to your specs. Google also has a generative AI – Gemini – and while its recent attempts at AI search haven’t been the best, we’d be shocked if this tech wasn’t incorporated into Google Glass 2.

We’ll have to wait and see what Google’s next AR device has in store for us if and when it launches. You can be sure we’ll be ready to give you the lowdown as soon as we have it.

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Google’s Gemini will be right back after these hallucinations: image generator to make a return after historical blunders

Google is gearing up to relaunch its image creation tool that’s part of the newly-rebranded generative artificial intelligence (AI) bot, Gemini, in the next few weeks. The generative AI image creation tool is in theory capable of generating almost anything you can dream up and put into words as a prompt, but “almost” is the key word here. 

Google has pumped the brakes on Gemini’s image generation after Gemini was observed creating historical depictions and other questionable images that were considered inaccurate or offensive. However, it looks like Gemini could return to image generation soon, as Google DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis announced that Gemini will be rebooted in the coming week after taking time to address these issues. 

Image generation came to Gemini earlier in February, and users were keen to test its abelites. Some people attempted to generate images depicting a certain historical period that appeared to greatly deviate from accepted historical fact. Some of these users took to social media to share their results and direct criticism at Google. 

The images caught many people’s attention and sparked many conversations, and Google has recognized the images as a symptom of a problem within Gemini. The tech giant then chose to take the feature offline and fix whatever was causing the model to dream up such strange and controversial pictures. 

Hassabis confirmed that Gemini was not working as intended, and that it would take some weeks to amend it, and bring it back online while speaking at a panel taking place at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) event in Barcelona

Person using a laptop in a coffeeshop

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If at first, your generative AI bot doesn't succeed…

Google’s first attempt at a generative AI chatbot was Bard, which saw a lukewarm reception and didn’t win users over from the more popular ChatGPT in the way Google had hoped, after which it changed course and debuted its revamped and rebranded family of generative models, Gemini. Like ChatGPT, Google is now offering a premium-tier for Gemini, which offers advanced features for a subscription. 

The examples of Gemini's misadventures have also reignited discussions about AI ethics generally, and Google’s AI ethics specifically, and around issues like the accuracy of generated AI output and AI hallucinations. Companies like Microsoft and Google are pushing ahead to win the AI assistant arms race, but while racing ahead, they’re in danger of releasing products with flaws that could undermine their hard work.

AI-generated content is becoming increasingly popular and, especially due to their size and resources, these companies can (and really, should) be held to a high standard of accuracy. High profile fails like the one Gemini experienced aren’t just embarrassing for Google – it could damage the product’s perception in the eyes of consumers. There’s a reason Google rebranded Bard after its much-mocked debut.

There’s no doubt that AI is incredibly exciting, but Google and its peers should be mindful that rushing out half-baked products just to get ahead of the competition could spectacularly backfire.

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iCloud Down: What’s happening and when will it return?

Apple's iCloud service is encountering service disruptions across at least one of its major services, with users expressing their frustration on X (formerly Twitter), with some TechRadar staff being locked out as well.

So what's going on and when will iCloud be back to full service? We've reached out to Apple for answers and are covering the outage so you can find out when you'll be back to business as normal on Apple's popular cloud service.

An Apple iCloud error message

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Apple iCloud services are down for at least some of TechRadar's US staff, with widespread reports online from frustrated users who cannot access Apple's iCloud email server.

Users have taken to X (formerly Twitter) to express their frustration with the iCloud outage, with Downdetector reporting at least 1,499 reports of trouble as of 4:06PM EST.

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A screenshot of downdetector showing an Apple iCloud outage

(Image credit: Downdetector)

The major services that appear to be hit are iCloud mail, which Apple reports as a total outage, with some partial outages being reported for other apps.

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iCloud Down: What’s happening and when will it return?

Apple's iCloud service is encountering service disruptions across at least one of its major services, with users expressing their frustration on X (formerly Twitter), with some TechRadar staff being locked out as well.

So what's going on and when will iCloud be back to full service? We've reached out to Apple for answers and are covering the outage so you can find out when you'll be back to business as normal on Apple's popular cloud service.

An Apple iCloud error message

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Apple iCloud services are down for at least some of TechRadar's US staff, with widespread reports online from frustrated users who cannot access Apple's iCloud email server.

Users have taken to X (formerly Twitter) to express their frustration with the iCloud outage, with Downdetector reporting at least 1,499 reports of trouble as of 4:06PM EST.

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Instagram’s new music-sharing status feels like the return of MySpace

What is old is now new again as Instagram is updating its Notes status tool with a new music-sharing feature.

This information comes from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg who shared the update via the Broadcast channel on his Instagram account (which is only viewable on mobile). He states that users will soon be able to post a short 30-second clip of a song they like directly to their Notes for all their friends to listen to. It’s reminiscent of how people would post music on their old MySpace account back in the day – though it’s unknown if the songs will autoplay the moment you enter your message or if people have to tap the message first. Hopefully, it’s the latter.

Adding a song is very easy to do. Looking at the Instagram Help Center, all you have to do is tap the music note icon before writing a note. Choose the track, publish, and you’re done. People can also type in a small caption to go with the song, if they so choose. 

New translation tool

Besides the musical update, other online reports reveal that Instagram Notes will soon be able to translate non-English languages. Users will begin seeing a “See translation” notice below notes. As you can probably guess, tapping said notice will immediately translate the text into a language you can read. 

This tool is already present in other parts of the platform from post descriptions to the comment section. Meta is essentially expanding a pre-existing function to yet another part of the app.

It’s unknown when either of these features will launch. At the time of this writing, the patch isn’t available yet. We did reach out to Meta for some clarification like whether or not the tracks will autoplay. This story will be updated at a later time.

Setting up the future

It is important to mention these new tools are coming at a very interesting time for Instagram. In the time since Notes launched back in December, the social media platform has been experimenting with more socially-centric features. To be more specific, the company is developing a secret project  – “a standalone decentralized social network for sharing text updates” not unlike Twitter.

A company-wide meeting was recently held at Meta HQ where chief product officer Chris Cox showed off mock-ups to employees of a potential Twitter rival right on Instagram. Referred to as Threads, according to some internal documents, the future platform aims to be one “that is sanely run”, which is possibly a shot at Twitter’s current tumultuous era under Elon Musk’s ownership.

In our opinion, all of these recent additions are a part of Meta’s long-term plan to prepare both Instagram and its users for the massive upcoming shift; whenever that is. Chris Cox didn’t give any exact dates during the initial reveal.

Until then, be sure to check out TechRadar’s list of the best Twitter alternatives.  

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Why MSN Messenger, Google Wave, and Vesper should return in 2022

There are some apps that are abandoned through no fault of their own. The team responsible could have moved on to other projects, or a new, redesigned app may have appeared to take its place.

If you go trawling through YouTube or even find an old PC in the family office, you can find yourself transported back to a time when the only way you could use the internet was by being sat down in front of a desk, waiting for a dial-up modem to connect.

But we're also heading into an era with the App Store and Google Play Store, where  users are longing for deleted apps to make a comeback, regardless of how they may look or operate in today's world.

There’s a growing nostalgia for the apps we used to use every day. Whether it's to feel like we're back at school, or just because the app was so good that we’d like to use them again for our new Windows 11 and iPhone 13 devices in 2022. Windows Media Player coming back is a great example of this, and it's why there should be more comebacks for depreciated apps.

With this in mind, here are three apps that should see a return and a remake for 2022 to take advantage of the devices we use every day.

Vesper

Vesper app on macOS

(Image credit: Q Branch)

This is a note-taking app that set itself apart from the rest in the productivity category at the time. 

Created by Q Branch, involving Brent Simmons, Dave Wiskus, and John Gruber, the app was launched in 2013 and then discontinued in 2016. But thanks to the ability to redownload apps that have disappeared from the App Store, Vesper can still be used in 2022.

Vesper’s design is classically inspired by Apple's Notes app from 2013, but in a modern vibe that still looks good in 2022.

The app's purpose is simple – to take notes. But you can also tag these notes, similar to a feature that Apple brought to its own Notes app only in 2021. You can swipe to the left to archive any notes that you don't need, and you can re-arrange them to order the notes in a way that suits your needs.

For some reason, we weren't able to redownload it for iPhone, but on an M1 Mac we could, and it still works great, even with a janky way to resize the window in only two ways.

You can't sync notes to different devices as that was shut down when Vesper shut its doors, but it's a great app to use locally on your device if you're creating one or two projects.

Since its discontinuation, the source code has been available on GitHub for someone else to make their own interpretation of the app. Using this app in 2022, we can't help but wonder if one last hurrah should occur for Vesper. One more version where the band gets back together, much like James Bond in the mid-nineties, to be relevant again but for a new civilized age.

Even in a world where we have note apps that work similarly to WhatsApp, there's still room for a Vesper, especially in an app world where we use to-do lists and collaborative efforts to jot things down for those personal projects.

To see a new, final Vesper with Widgets, a web version variant, iCloud sync, alongside the proverbial dark mode option, could be a great way for Q Branch to sign off and raise a glass to, and have it work for our modern iPhones again.

MSN Messenger

MSN Messenger in Windows 11

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Between 1999 and 2009, Microsoft's messaging app was everywhere. You'd finish school and go straight to your parents' PC to log on to MSN Messenger, to either continue a conversation from earlier or to arrange something for later that evening.

You would log in and be greeted with a list of the contacts you've added, with many showcasing using waves of emojis and symbols placed on either side to their name for effect.

You could 'nudge' and 'wink' a friend who would be online, and you could exchange images if you wanted.

Eventually, the ability to play games with one another, alongside webcam support would be available to use, taking a strain on the 120Kbps broadband that would have been the average common internet speeds in 2003.

MSN Messenger was also arguably the first dating app before Tinder and Bumble. A small rainbow or heart next to a name would be a not-so-subtle hint on someone's name, yet it could initiate something more in the playground the next day. Messenger had something for everyone during those times, but ironically it didn't move to where apps were going.

Due to the rise of the iPhone and the App Store in 2008, Windows Live Messenger, as it was renamed to, dropped in usage, as everyone was starting to use WhatsApp, Facebook, FaceTime, and iMessage to communicate with one another, and Messenger was discontinued in 2014.

While you can install a version of the app in Windows 11, you can only get as far as the login screen, as the server to connect to the Hotmail server has long been depreciated.

In hindsight, Microsoft didn't know what it had – it rode a wave that the company hasn't had in the messaging category since. Especially when you consider how Zoom soared in use during the pandemic while Skype was left as an afterthought.

But nostalgia is starting to seep through to apps – Windows Media Player has returned to Windows 11, and currently, there are two apps by Microsoft, Teams, and Skype that both do the same function, but not as well as Zoom.

Rebooting MSN Messenger as a service for everyone, but with business features for work, could be a big boon to many.

Imagine MSN Messenger as an app for iOS and Android, alongside Windows 11, macOS, and Chromebooks. With Microsoft's aim of making apps available on as many systems as possible Messenger is the next logical step.

One that can bring back the nudges, the winks, and themes to bring the look of 2022 back, could be appealing to many, while the features are useful to others.

Microsoft is in a bind with Skype and Teams. Making a fresh start with an app that users have nostalgia for, but rebuilt for 2022, could be something that could appeal to everyone, and clear the deck of confusion that the company has carried with the two apps for a number of years now.

Google Wave

This effort by Google in 2009 was a direct precursor to the Slacks and Microsoft Teams of apps that you probably use every day in 2022.  The main theme of Google Wave was collaboration, with an effort to help with projects that involve many users without having to use Skype or a messaging app from back in the day, in order to collaborate in a Google Docs file.

Wave only lasted for three years between 2009 and 2012, but it’s still missed by plenty of users. It was a time when Google would try out different products almost every six months, but if it didn't quite hit the mark there’s a good chance you’re not able to use it anymore.

Google Wave worked differently from other apps, as you would have to be referred in order for your Google account to have access to Wave giving it an exclusive feel. Eventually, in 2010 it was available to everyone, so you could invite someone to a project without having to find a referral link.

This would combine Google Mail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, and your contact list into one app, where you could collaborate on different projects. 

While the user interface in the video department left a lot to be desired due to so much going on, it had a knack for introducing each feature and interface option in steps. After an hour or so, you'd be able to use it with ease.

But Google pulled the plug on Wave in 2011, with its reasons being that too few users were using the service, even though there were signs that it was about to grow, due to the increase in social network usage at the time.

As it is with Google's stance on abandoned projects, there's no way of trying out a remade version of Wave in 2022 – you can only be reminded through screenshots and videos. But in a way, you're already using them through Slack, Teams, and Google Docs collaborations.

But it's a service that should come back, as it could work well alongside Slack integration and app versions on iOS and Android.

But with Google's focus on mobile and content, it's 50/50 as to whether it would consider a return for Wave.

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Rejoice! WhatsApp users on iOS can celebrate the return of this great feature

The beta builds of WhatsApp are where you tend to find new features and options to play with. From time to time, however, these preview builds also serve as a glimpse of things that are vanishing from the messaging app.

This is precisely what happened with the camera media bar recently, and this led to a wave of complaints from disgruntled users. Previously, you would be able to scroll through your images horizontally while having the camera available to shoot, but a recent update relegated this to just one image.

Thankfully, WhatsApp is very good at listening to feedback, and as such it has taken action to give people what they want. What this means is that – for iOS users, at least – the scrollable camera media bar is back.

The removal this feature caused a lot of upset as it made sending photos and videos a more long-winded process. A few extra taps here and there may not sound like much in theory, but it is something that soon gets extremely annoying in practice.

The bar is back

WhatsApp media bar

(Image credit: WABetaInfo)

Although the initial change that saw the removal of the camera media bar did not make the feature unusable, it did complicate the process unnecessarily. If you wanted to send out a message with a previously-taken image as quickly as possible, any extra steps could have been a major irritation.

This is far from being the first time WhatsApp has introduced a change only to backtrack on its design decision, and it almost certainly won't be the last.

This is why the return of the scrollable media bar will be welcomed by most. Anyone who is signed up for the TestFlight beta program can download and install WhatsApp beta version 22.4.0.72 for iOS.

Once installed, this version of the app restores the scrollable media browser bar, making it quick and easy to navigate through the contents of your camera rolls and select videos, photos and other images to send in messages.

Via WABetaInfo

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