Google pushes the boundaries of smartphone size with Nexus 6
The Google Nexus 6 is the latest Android flagship smartphone from Google and, like each one before it, it is designed to showcase the latest developments on its Android platform. Indisputably and unapologetically a "phablet," the device centers on a gargantuan 5.96-inch QHD AMOLED display, and comes pre-installed with Android 5.0 "Lollipop." It truly challenges the boundaries of what users are prepared to carry around with them as an everyday all-purpose device. That, of course, makes it a very interesting proposition.
Jim Hood claims MPAA has no sway, despite taking MPAA funds
Google has launched its own legal effort to stop Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood's effort with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to pin the search engine as the cause of the world's piracy problem. Google claims in the court filing in Mississippi's district court that Hood has filed a "burdensome, retaliatory" subpoena against it, which would require a massive financial and labor effort to comply, for no real gain other than extra-judiciary punishment. Hood has responded, and is "calling a time out, so that cooler heads may prevail."
Dev channel for Chrome OS includes always-on voice search option
Google is bringing the always-on "Ok Google" voice command to Chromebooks. Spotted in the Dev Channel version of the operating system by Francois Beaufort, the function lets users perform a search verbally at any time, in a similar manner to some Android smartphones. It is unknown if or when the feature will reach non-developer users.
Six movie studios, including Sony, provided $500,000 per year for the MPAA's campaign against Google
In the past weeks, quite a lot has been revealed about Sony's role in ongoing anti-piracy efforts due to the leak of emails as part of the fallout of the North Korean-based GOP attack on the studio. In a post on Thursday on the Google Public Policy Blog, Kent Walker, Google SVP and general counsel, outlined even more leaks that describe a combined and carefully planned effort by Sony and five other studios that began this year to provide funding and legal support for the MPAA's efforts to court State Attorney Generals and target Google directly.
Judge concerned about 'speculative nature of the damages'
US District Judge Beth L. Freeman ruled on Thursday that she requires the plaintiffs, Gary Feitelson and Daniel McKee, in a lawsuit against Google to submit more details. The two consumers allege that Android-based smartphone prices are being negatively impacted because manufacturers must agree to pre-load apps like the Google search app by default, instead of making deals with, for instance, Bing. The judge has said she would most likely dismiss the lawsuit as it stands, but is giving the plaintiffs a chance to revise it with additional evidence.
Google adds Colbert Report set to Street View using Business View
Google has recreated the set of The Colbert Report in Street View, in honor of the show's last episode. The virtual tour of the studio, including around the main desk and interview area, was created by Business View, a service which uses a Google-certified photographer or agency to take photographs at a location before generating the explorable 360-degree images.
Leather wallet case for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus now available in gray
Mujjo has introduced its Leather Wallet Case line-up for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in gray, as part of its Desaturated Collection. The wallet case is designed to hold two to three essential cards without sacrificing a thin profile. The case is available in two styles for iPhone 6 -- one with the card slot angled upright and the other with an 80 degree angle pocket -- and the 80 degree angle pocket case is available for iPhone 6 Plus. Pricing for the Desaturated Collection begins at $40, and cases can be purchased through Mujjo.
Project gains Bluetooth LE beacon stickers, competes with iBeacon
Google's attempt to take on Apple's iBeacon platform has taken its first major step since its announcement in October, with the release of hardware compatible with the framework. Blesh, a Turkish company who already works with iBeacon hardware, is offering a bundle of Bluetooth beacons for use with the "Physical Web" project.
Google Drive for iOS adds cross-app upload functionality
Google's cloud storage platform app has been updated for iOS today, now offering the ability to upload files from other sources. As reported last week, Apple has reversed its course on a policy that disallowed an app to upload content to iCloud Drive unless a file was created within the app itself. Google Drive for iOS v3.4.0 includes bug fixes and performance improvements, and file uploading to Drive from other apps and sources (such as iCloud Drive) can be executed on devices running iOS 8. Google Drive for iOS requires iOS 7.0 or later to run.
Ad giant has until February to make changes to its data-collection methods
Google doesn't properly inform users in regards to the extent of data collection and collation from all of Google's various products, a Dutch agency says about the search and advertising giant, and is threatening the company with a €15 million ($18.7 million US) fine if it doesn't change its notification to users of everything from its data collection methods to the fact that it owns YouTube by next February. The agency, known as the CBP, says Google's collation of user data is a violation of Dutch law.
Baidu agrees to use Here maps for location services outside of China
Here, Nokia's mapping service, is going to provide content for the Android and iOS Baidu Maps app, as well as desktop maps. The agreement will allow Baidu to offer its Chinese travelers access to maps for areas outside of China for the first time, with Taiwan set to be the first country covered and others set to follow. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Spanish AEDE lobbied for law that ultimately caused closure of Google News
Last week, Google announced its intentions to shutter its Google News service in Spain, citing a law coming into effect in January that would force it to pay for snippets of content. At the end of the week, the Spanish Newspaper Publishers' Association (AEDE) asked the government to intervene in the closure, saying that Google's abandonment of the country would "undoubtedly have a negative impact on citizens and Spanish businesses."
LTE-equipped Nexus 9 priced $120 more than Wi-Fi equivalent
A variant of the Google Nexus 9 tablet with cellular connectivity is now on sale in the United States, two months after it was first unveiled. The Nexus 9 LTE, being sold first through T-Mobile before other carriers and Google Play, is identical to the already-available 32GB Wi-Fi model, but includes the requisite cellular radios to connect to T-Mobile's network.
Data storage law prompts closure of Google engineering office in Russia
A Google engineering office located in Russia is reportedly closing, in the wake of changes to the law concerning user data. According to the Wall Street Journal, the search giant is going to be pulling out just the engineering office, with a large contingent of employees working on sales, business partnerships, user support, marketing, and communications set to remain.
YouTube adds GIF creation tool to some videos
YouTube has added an animated GIF tool to some of its videos. Spotted by Gizmodo, the tool appears under the Share menu, with users able to select a section of video and create a six-second GIF from the clip, complete with a caption at the top and bottom. So far, the tool has been discovered on some videos created by PBS, but it may appear on other YouTube content in the future.
Leaked information reveals potential legal tactics and meetings with Google execs
A disturbing new email leak sent to Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton in 2012 has revealed a secret meeting between officials from the Department of Homeland Security and representatives from Google that was focused on methods by which the various groups could hobble or block sites known for hosting pirated materials. Meetings also occurred between the MPAA and an unnamed national law-firm across 2013 to discuss methods to force ISPs to block sites hosting or aggregating pirated content.
App replaced by 'Amazon Shopping' app with no links to app store
As a result of a revised developer's agreement, Google has made the original Amazon Android app undiscoverable in Google Play. Amazon has replaced the removed app with a new "Amazon Shopping" app, which notably removes access to the retailer's app store through a Google Play-sanctioned app, leaving users forced to "sideload" a separate app from another source in order to facilitate downloads and purchases from Amazon's app store.
Some Maps content directly integrated
Google has released a major update of its eponymous iOS app, v5.0.0. The software has been "completely rebuilt," according to Google, and now sports the "Material Design" central to Android Lollipop and a growing collection of other apps. Users can access a Recents list to return to previously-visited pages, and start a new search anywhere in the app by tapping the Google logo.
Ultrasonic pulses used to connect guest smartphone with Chromecast
The Google Chromecast is finally allowing guests to cast content without joining the same Wi-Fi network, courtesy of a new update. Originally teased during Google IO in June, the new Guest Mode can be enabled on a Chromecast individually, with the Chromecast and the guest smartphone or tablet also attempting to open communications without requiring any user configuration.
Production halts on Nexus 5, only black variant available on Google Play
Production for the Google Nexus 5 has finally ceased, it has been confirmed. The smartphone, the predecessor to the Nexus 6, is no longer being manufactured by LG for the search company and, despite a few slight availability issues for some variants, Google is going to continue selling the device until it runs out of stock completely.
Developers for low-tech virtual reality device gains more support from Google
Google's low-tech virtual reality efforts have received a boost, with updates for users, developers, and those creating their own version of the Google Cardboard kit. Alongside a new Cardboard app making it easier to find and view VR experiences, Google Play now includes a collection page showing a number of made-for-Cardboard apps, including a performance by Paul McCartney and scenes from The Hobbit.
Developers gain new API to help create faces for Android Wear devices
The latest update to Android Wear is adding more user-personalizable options to the smartwatch software, among other improvements. Dozens of watch faces for Android Wear wearables are being made available to download, with a new Watch Face API also being introduced to make it easier for developers to create new faces.
Beta site dropped Google content earlier in 2014
Apple has now replaced Google Maps content in the iCloud.com version of Find My iPhone with its own data, checks show. The company dropped Google from the beta iCloud website earlier this year, but left the main site intact until now. The change eliminates most, if not all, remaining Google Maps content from Apple products.
YouTube star courtship by Vessel prompts attempt by Google to keep talent
Google is so keen on keeping its important content creators from moving away from YouTube that it is offering bonuses for staying, a report claims. Prominent YouTube stars and video producers are said to be offered higher payments and additional funding, in exchange for agreeing to a multi-year exclusivity period where content must appear solely on YouTube long before surfacing on rival video services.
Future update to Google Translate will use live camera feed
A future update to Google Translate will apparently include technology acquired from the company's purchase of Quest Visual, the developer of the Word Lens translation app. The Translate app will soon include a "Live Translation" mode, which will automatically change the text displayed from a live camera feed from one language to another.
Microsoft brings Cortana to France, Germany, Italy, Spain
Microsoft is bringing the Cortana virtual assistant to more countries in Europe. An update as part of the Windows Phone Developer Preview Program rolling out today will grant access to Cortana in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. Released as an alpha version, Microsoft warns many of the advanced features will not be available, such as flight tracking and some reference data, but the team is working to add localized content for each language, along with a slightly tailored personality.
Incoming Inbox app updates detailed during Reddit AMA
Google is planning to introduce support for Google Apps within Inbox, the team behind the mobile app has revealed. As part of a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) thread, the team revealed a number of features which will be coming to the app at some point in the future, though it was not revealed when exactly users will be able to benefit from the new functions.
Products like YouTube, Chrome could be created for kids under the age of 12
Starting next year, Google will be tinkering with new versions of some of its most popular products. While the search giant often experiments with its services and various consumer offerings, the upcoming venture is a little different. Instead of improving or completely changing existing products, the company is going to create specific versions for children ages 12 and younger.
High accuracy of scripted bots prompts change in Captcha system
Google is updating the reCaptcha human authentication system, by effectively removing the Captcha element for the majority of users. Dubbed the "No Captcha reCaptcha," the new API will attempt to monitor the user's interaction with the captcha to see if they are genuine or a script, with most valid users able to simply click a tick box without seeing a Captcha at all.
Update to Android Lollipop may fix lock screen bug
An update for Android Lollipop is believed to be on the way, after a new factory image for Nexus devices was released for download. Version 5.01 of the mobile operating system has been pushed to AOSP along with factory images for the Wi-Fi Nexus 9, Nexus 10, and 2013 Nexus 7, a step usually followed by an over-the-air update for other devices.
Google updates YouTube counter after limit reached by Gangnam Style
Google has been forced to upgrade the counter used on YouTube, after Psy's Gangnam Style video exceeded its maximum value. The Register reports the video sharing site had used a 32-bit integer for the counter, which failed once more than 2,147,483,647 views of the video occurred. Google has now changed the counter to fix the problem, as well as showing what the counter would read if it kept using the old system.
Google accepts sign-ups for Fiber service in Austin
Google has started to accept sign-ups for the Google Fiber "fiberhoods" in Austin. Starting with areas in the south and south-east of the city, residential customers can sign up for plans offering Gigabit Internet and TV services for $130 per month, Gigabit Internet alone for $70 per month, or a 5Mbps connection for no monthly charge but a $300 construction fee, with a business plan providing Gigabit Internet for $100 per month. Other parts of the city will be brought into the Google Fiber sign-up process in the future.
Intel said to be planning promotion of Google Glass in industry
Google's next iteration of the Glass headset will be packing an Intel processor, claims the Wall Street Journal. The current Texas Instruments processor in the first generation of Google Glass will be replaced by an Intel-based version as part of Intel's push into wearables, report sources claim, with the next model expected to ship next year.
Google mostly compliant, with exception of notifying publishers of removal
This week has been a busy one for Europe's "right to be forgotten" stricture. Not only have Yahoo and Microsoft's Bing launched the mandated efforts for users, but the European Commission has also issued guidance to the search engines on how to handle requests. The guidance is similar to what Google has implemented, but there may be some issues ahead, as the document published by the commission takes issues to search engines warning site operators when a page with information is delisted, potentially stirring up old issues and bringing more attention to the deleted content.
Vote pressures European Commission to fix Google search dominance issue
The European Parliament has voted in favor of making Google break apart its search business from the rest of the company. With 384 approving the motion to 174 against with 56 abstentions, the Parliament is indicating to member states and the European Commission it wants something done about Google's power in search, with a separation of search services being the preferred option.
Companies look to exploit end of Google contract
Yahoo and Microsoft are courting Apple in hopes of becoming the default search provider for the Safari web browser next year, a report says. Apple renewed a mapping and search partnership with Google in 2010, but that contract is set to expire next year, which could give other companies an entry point. Both Yahoo and Microsoft executives are said to have approached Eddy Cue -- Apple's senior VP for Internet Software and Services -- about a potential deal. So far, though, there's no sign that Apple has made a decision, and indeed it could choose to remain with Google.
New dashboard lists last time devices accessed Google account
Google is helping owners of devices running its operating systems to secure their accounts and their units, with a new dashboard. A Devices and Activity dashboard has been introduced to show what devices have accessed the Google account recently, while a new security wizard for Google for Work accounts will guide enterprise users on how to secure their accounts properly.
Google Nexus 9 is the first high-end 64-bit Android on ARM device
The new Google Nexus 9 is acting as the single replacement for the Google Nexus 7 and the Google Nexus 10, which Google is marketing as being a "just right" compromise between the two sizes. It is also the first tablet from Google to feature a 4:3 aspect ratio (instead of 16:9), which is the ratio favored by Apple for its iPad range. Among other "firsts," it is the first Android tablet to launch with Android 5.0 "Lollipop," while it is also the first Android tablet to feature a 64-bit ARM-based processor. So how is it shaping up ahead of our full review?
Testing on Nexus 6 shows dramatic decrease in NAND read and write performance
While initial reviews of the anticipated Google Nexus 6 device were decent, a few reviewers pointed out some confusing performance metrics. Initial examiners of the device are reporting that implementation of Android 5.0 Lollipop's Full Disk Encryption (FDE) cuts NAND random read speeds dramatically, from over 16.6MB/s with encryption off, to 6.18MB/s with the feature active.
Search separation proposal set to be finalized, voted on next week
The European Parliament is looking to break Google apart into multiple sections, according to a draft motion discovered by the Financial Times. The proposal seeks to separate Google's "search engines from other commercial services," in an attempt to curb the power gained from being the most dominant search engine on the continent.
Google offers Chromebook users 1TB of cloud storage for two years
Google is giving potential Chromebook users an incentive to pick up the notebook before the end of the year. The search company is providing new Chromebook purchases worth $199 or more with 1TB of Google Drive storage for two years as a free bonus. The offer applies to purchases at retail and online stores, as well as Google Play, but must be redeemed before January 1st, 2015.
Workaround: Use Firefox or Chrome, switch Safari ID to other browser
Users are starting to chime in on Google and Apple's support forums about a sudden incompatibility with video hosting service YouTube. Some users of OS X 10.10.1 are complaining that YouTube videos with leading advertisements either fail to load, play a discordant sound with no video, or crash Safari itself. Firefox and Chrome are not affected by whatever is causing the problem.
Google Play Music All Access subscribers gain YouTube Music Key access
Google has rolled out its YouTube Music Key service to existing Google Play Music All Access subscribers. While the YouTube Music Key launch revealed its users automatically enrolled into the Google Play Music subscription, Google revealed yesterday that Music All Access users were also able to use Music Key as part of their existing subscription. The Google Play Music app has also been updated on Android, providing options to watch the music video with certain tracks.
Agreement reached November 12, set to end year-long legal battle by end of 2014
Google's legal battle with the Rockstar Consortium over claims that the search company infringes upon seven patents with the Android operating system appears to be coming to an end. According to a filing submitted to the US District Court of the Eastern District of Texas on November 17, both parties have agreed to settle their dispute.
Imgur, The Onion among initial partners
Google has launched a new service called Contributor, allowing people to pay to remove ads from participating websites. At the service's portal, visitors can pick which sites they want to contribute to, and whether to donate $1, $2, or $3 per month. Once a subscription is active, visiting those sites will display thank-you messages and/or pixel patterns in place of the ads.
Store access granted to developers despite lack of Google Play Store in China
Google is now accepting apps created by developers based in China on the Google Play Store. While the change now allows for developers in the country to sign up as merchants for Google's Android app marketplace, distributing the apps to users in more than 130 countries, the apps themselves will not be available in China itself, as Google Play does not currently operate there.
Five-year partnership ends decade long deal that made Google the default Firefox search
Mozilla made a major announcement today, letting the world know that its 10-year default search relationship with Google is coming to an end. However, that doesn't mean Mozilla is ending the idea of a default search provider for its free browser. In Google's place, Mozilla struck a new partnership with Yahoo to make its Bing-powered search the default in US copies of Firefox.
Trusted Places automatically unlocks smartphone at specific locations
Android devices running the latest version of the operating system will be able to unlock automatically in specific locations, via a security option slowly rolling out on Google Play Services. Available on hardware running Android Lollipop, the Trusted Places feature will keep a smartphone or tablet unlocked while within a predefined geographic area.
Release breaks all 32-bit extensions, offers faster startup and memory management
Originally announced in August, Google has now released Chrome 39 for OS X, the first version of the browser that is fully 64-bit. In addition to some 42 security fixes and new APIs, the new version now requires all extension developers update their extensions to 64-bit, as 32-bit extensions are no longer supported. The change will result in a lot of existing Chrome extensions "breaking" for most users, at least temporarily.
Google Nexus 6 pre-orders begin in United Kingdom
The Google Nexus 6 will be going on sale soon in the United Kingdom, with a number of retailers offering pre-orders for the device. Carphone Warehouse is selling the smartphone SIM-free for £499 and £549 ($780 and $860) for the 32GB and 64GB models respectively with delivery expected on December 1st. Amazon UK is stocking the 32GB model at the same price, but with a later release date of December 15th. Google Play does list the Nexus 6 for the UK, with identical pricing for both versions, but it is not allowing for pre-orders, nor states when it will be available.