Popular Science has awarded Google Now its Innovation of the year honour. The reason behind the selection – it’s the first product that suggests something to you before you’ve probably thought about it. Popular Science is calling it, “the first virtual assistant that truly anticipates your needs.”
Previous winners of the award include the Mars Curiosity Rover, the Toyota Prius and the Large Hadron Collider. Google Now was only launched around 5 months ago but the context and location sensitive app for Android (Jelly Bean 4.1) that keeps track of dates, events and locations, offers traffic advice, personalized recommendations and a host of other information (often predictive to an uncanny extent) is growing in leaps and acquiring a steady fan base.
An interview with part of the Google Now team and Popular Science can be found here. It reveals that there’s a lot more in store for the milestone achieving app.
Canon’s entry-level DSLR’s rose to mainstream acclaim with the launch of the 550D years ago, but last year’s 600D – despite being an excellent entry-level camera – was widely agreed to be a very minimal upgrade for someone who already owns the predecessor. Now, Canon arrives with their latest 650D which actually has some notable upgrades compared to its previous models which makes it a very competent entry-level DSLR for photo and video enthusiasts. But some lingering issues still remain.
Design & Features
Right out of the box, the 650D doesn’t look much different from the 600D. It still looks and feels about the same size, but there are minor changes here that need to be noted. The grip has been modified on the camera which actually feels better, and some buttons have been changed. The ISO button, for example, has a little point on top of it so that you can easily click it without looking. It’s disappointing that the new headphone jack from the Canon Mark III doesn’t carry over here because it’s such an easy thing to add. The most prominent change you will notice is on the On/Off slider, which now has three options instead of two. The third one is the ‘Movie’ button, which allows you to instantly switch to video recording mode instead of previously using the scroll on top to navigate to the last button. A very welcome addition for sure, but at this point they could’ve easily given us the dedicated movie recording button the 7D and other cameras have. But we’ll take this.
But let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The thing that everyone has been talking about with the 650D and is by far the biggest and most innovative change compared to previous models – the touch screen. Believe it or not, this is the first DSLR in the world to have incorporated a touch screen interface. But there’s a reason why DSLR companies have been afraid to try out touch screen on the devices – professional photographers may find it gimmicky and actually counter-productive to their work when they’re so used to the perfectly functioning buttons on their cameras. And that’s a valid argument – there’s nothing wrong with using the traditional knobs and buttons for accessing everything needed. But here’s the best part – the touch screen here actually works. And by works I don’t mean that it functions as its supposed to. It’s actually surprisingly impressive.
Substituting the button controls for touch screen proved to be surprisingly snappy as Canon’s implementation of touch screen makes the simplest tasks much faster, even if you never realised you needed it. Instead of pressing buttons to reach to a particular tab, you can just touch it now. Flicking through photos and zooming in is quite snappy, and every control is quick and responsive. Sometimes, it feels bottlenecked by the processor but this is something that will catch on with other manufacturers as audiences warm up to it. But the camera never forces you to use it – you can still use the button controls for literally everything just like before. But after getting the taste of touch screen, accessing certain things with buttons won’t feel the same anymore.