Tech Update: Google smartphone, careers and the cloud

Technology | Wed 2 Nov | Author – Business & Finance google pixel
Google Pixel smartphones

Bite-sized news, views and updates from the global tech industry, edited by Ruraidh Conlon O’Reilly.

PIXEL PICKS A FIGHT

Google has finally confirmed the worst-kept secret in smartphone history: its new rival to Apple and Samsung, the Google Pixel. Replacing the search giant’s Nexus range, the Pixel’s biggest selling points are fast charging, the best camera available, and Google Assistant built in.

The aluminium-and-Gorilla-Glass device runs Android 7.1 Nougat and there’s a choice of 5” or 5.5” screen sizes, along with three covers. Pre-order is already opened in the US, UK, Canada, Germany and Australia – no word on Ireland as yet. With a $649 pricetag, it’s clearly aimed at the higher end of an already-busy market.

The company also took the opportunity to unveil wi-fi hub Google Home and its latest Chromecast Ultra 4K gadget, taking on the latest Amazon products in the living room space.

TECH IN FOCUS AT CAR SHOW

This year’s Paris Motor Show was the techiest ever, with major motor manufacturers queuing up to make their offerings greener, more sustainable and more 21st century in general.

They’re reacting to the headline-grabbing innovations of Tesla, as well as Google and Apple’s entries into the car world.

Volkswagen were on hand with their ID Concept, the electric and driverless successor to the Beetle and Golf set for production in 2020, while Renault’s Zoe will come with a 41kWh battery, giving it a newfound range of 400km.

At the high-performance end of the spectrum Porsche revealed its Panamera 4 E-Hybrid, which can go 50km on battery only, and Mercedes-Benz revealed its Generation EQ – a futuristic SUV coupé concept with a range of 500km and a battery-electric drive.

NOT IN IT FOR THE MONEY?

career-zoo-36Career networking event people Career Zoo have released a unique insight into the Irish tech jobs scene. According to their survey of over 200 tech-sector workers, over 80% are planning to switch jobs within the next year.

Nearly 85% believe that they’ll change jobs every five years throughout their career, and of 12 potential factors to consider when looking for a new job, salary was bottom of the list. Family-friendly policies, opportunities to travel and a good workspace topped the polls.

“Because of their in-demand skills and experience levels, tech professionals place less value on pay-scales than other workplace factors,” explained Career Zoo director Jackie Slattery.  “Essentially, they know they can attract a decent salary. As a result, what they consider important when assessing a potential new employer are factors like family-friendly policies, travel opportunities, an enjoyable work environment, generous levels of annual leave, and flexible work options.”

AN UNUSUAL STEP

fusion-hr-stepjockey-2Irish company Fusion HR has made an unconventional move for a human resources consultancy: it’s launched a new app and fitness regime aimed at encouraging people to take the stairs in the name of fitness.

The company has partnered with UK-based StepJockey and developed smart signs for offices, and a gamification element to turn stair use into an app-based challenge. It has been trialled extensively in the UK, with over 250,000 stair/lift journeys recorded. Adding smart signs – signage with QR codes – increases stair use by 29%, with gamification increasing use fivefold. Add incentives or prizes and this increases to eightfold.

This makes for a healthier office environment: Fusion is headquartered at NexusUCD, a four-storey building in which taking the stairs burns 12.5 calories.

“The stairwells of multi-storey office blocks are an underused resource in facilities and through the introduction of StepJockey in Ireland we are enabling, in a cost effective manner, staff and customers to incorporate exercise and fun into their work day,” said chief sales officer Conor Hoey of Fusion HR. He and his team hope to roll out the initiative across Ireland.

nadella14color_printMICROSOFT BOSS CLOUDS THE ISSUE

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was in Dublin this month to talk all things cloud. The successor to Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer has been moving the company in a new direction that he dubs ‘cloud first, mobile first’ and his appearance at the Convention Centre Dublin expanded on the theme.

Nadella revealed that the company has invested more than $3bn in its European cloud operations to date, and it is working with the Health Service Executive to deliver a new eHealth Ireland initiative. The company has a substantial Irish operation under managing director Cathriona Hallahan.

Nadella and Microsoft president Brad Smith also spoke about the company’s ‘A Cloud for Global Good’ initiative: 78 public policy recommendations that will enable the technology to be put to good use in society.