Lack of infrastructure information, planning issues makes Google wary of Fiber expansion
Cities wanting to have Google Fiber's Gigabit Internet service will need to simplify the bureaucratic process as much as possible before it will be considered, the search company has warned. Vice President of Access Services at Google Fiber Milo Medin advised to an audience earlier this week that "If you make it easy, we will come. If you make it hard, enjoy your Time Warner Cable."
Android Pay rumor comes as Softcard pulls support for Windows Phone
Google will be launching a new payments API at its Google I/O developer conference in May, a report claims, potentially giving Apple Pay some stiff competition. Android Pay will allow developers to not only add mobile payments to their apps, but to also facilitate in-store purchases via smartphone over NFC. The news comes as Softcard reveals it is starting to pull support for its apps, following the purchase of its intellectual property by the search company.
Google Play Music expands track storage to 50,000 songs
Google Play Music has received an upgrade to its music storage component, allowing customers to keep more songs on its servers for streaming to computers and mobile devices. The music locker has increased its upper limit of 20,000 tracks to 50,000, double that of the paid iTunes Match service. Despite vastly increasing its storage capacity, the digital locker is still a completely free service.
Updated Chromebook Pixel may keep physical design, screen of original
The Chromebook Pixel, Google's attempt at a premium Chrome OS notebook, may receive an unexpected upgrade. A video recorded at Team Work 2015 and put on YouTube, now made private, shows Director of Android and Chrome, Google for Work Renee Niemi speaking briefly about the device, though it appears the search company will be producing a limited number aimed at developers.
Google extends Inbox availability to Google Apps for Work users
Google is expanding the availability of its Inbox app to users of its Google Apps for Work service. The Google for Work blog advises that it is going to be sending out invitations to administrator accounts granting access to the Inbox early adopter program, allowing users to use the Inbox app to manage their work Gmail account.
Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile to pre-install Google Wallet on new smartphones
Google is preparing to compete more intensely against Apple Pay, by acquiring mobile payments technology from Softcard. At the same time, Google has struck a deal with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless to have Google Wallet pre-installed on sold devices, the same group of carriers who backed the Softcard payments system in the first place.
YouTube Kids app will provide child-friendly curated videos
Google will be launching a version of its YouTube app specifically for younger users tomorrow, as part of a wider initiative to offer services to children. The YouTube Kids app on Android will present children with a curated collection of age-appropriate video clips to stream to a device, with the search company using an interface that is designed to shield the potential users away from content better suited for more mature audiences.
Pebble website counts down to possible hardware announcement
Pebble has updated its website with a countdown timer to an unknown event, with the timer set to run out on Tuesday morning. Expected to be another device announcement, sources of 9to5mac claim it will be a major update featuring a color e-paper display and a thinner case design, complete with a microphone for voice recognition and a backlight. Pebble CEO Eric Migicovsky has previously suggested there would be some changes to the smartwatch's software, with a new "interaction model," but the CEO kept quiet when asked about hardware changes.
Reported addition of subscription comes amid unskippable advertising expansion
YouTube will soon be launching a subscription service that will allow users to turn off advertising, a report claims. Working as a separate offering to the current Music Key subscription, which removes ads from music videos and also includes access to Google Play Music All Access, the new subscription would apply to all videos on the YouTube service.
Google adds more editing options to Google Docs for Android
Google Docs for Android has been updated to provide more from its Office Compatibility Mode. The latest version allows for the cutting, copying, and pasting of text, images, tables, and charts in the mode, according to the Google Apps Updates blog, with the app also introducing the ability to insert links into Google documents. The updated app is available to download now from Google Play.
Russian search engine captures 60 percent of the business in Russia
Russian search engine Yandex has demanded that antitrust authorities investigate Google. Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has been instructed to look into Mountain View's bundling of services with mobile operating system Android, and how it impacts the market share of other companies' services in the country.
Google drops IMAP client Sparrow for Inbox Gmail/Google Now hybrid
Once again, a popular Mac product originally developed independently and later bought by Google, has been discontinued. Like Snapseed before it, Google has decided to kill off popular email client Sparrow for both Mac and iOS in favor of its own Inbox product. The former program has been removed from both the iOS and Mac App Stores. The Mac program never received an update after Google's purchase of Sparrow in 2012, while the iOS one has languished since October of 2013.
User interface update makes Google Play Music for iOS look like Android app
Google has made a few major changes to its Google Play Music app for iOS, following a three-month update gap, turning it from an iPhone-only app into a universal app that works on the iPad. At the same time, the music app has received a graphical overhaul, with the "Material Design" influence of Android Lollipop being used in the iOS version, making it seem almost identical to what Android users see on their devices.
Initial camera components for modular smartphone have 2MP, 5MP, 13MP sensors
Project Ara, Google's quest to create a modular smartphone, has received two significant boosts. Toshiba has revealed a trio of camera modules that can be inserted into the back of the smartphone and exchanged for other modules, while smartphone manufacturer Yezz has confirmed it will be creating its own modules for the project, with its first modules set to be unveiled at Mobile World Congress.
AT&T to start selling BlackBerry Passport, Classic from February 20
BlackBerry fans in the United States will soon be able to pick up the manufacturer's latest devices on AT&T. The BlackBerry Classic and the BlackBerry Passport, redesigned specifically for the carrier, will be going on sale from February 20. The Passport, complete with rounded edges, will cost $650 off-contract, $200 with a two-year agreement, or for between $21.67 and $32.50 under AT&T Next. The Classic will cost $50 on a two-year contract, $420 off-contract, or under AT&T Next's various plans, between $14 and $21 per month.
First episode of Better Call Saul free on iTunes, Google Play
Better Call Saul, the long-awaited spin-off to Breaking Bad, is now available on iTunes and Google Play. The premiere episode of the series, which is set in the years before the protagonist becomes Walter White's lawyer, is free to acquire from both services, with extra episodes priced at $2 each or $17 for the season pass in standard definition. The high-definition version on iTunes costs $3 per episode and $26 for the entire season.
Square allegedly working on Android hardware, Google trials Plaso
Square and Google are both said to be working on new payment systems in order to take on Apple Pay and the payments market in general, according to a report. Building upon its existing knowledge of payment hardware, Square is said to be working on its own tablet, while Google is allegedly testing a new payment processing method called "Plaso."
Large proportion of dating apps on Google Play contain vulnerabilities
Users of dating services may be leaving themselves and their employers at risk, by using mobile apps, according to research performed by IBM Security. Researchers claim that a high proportion of dating apps on Android are vulnerable to attack, with 26 out of 41 apps analyzed on Google Play having medium or high severity vulnerabilities, opening the user up to attack.
Scribd adds 10,000 comics, graphic novels to 'all you can read' service
Literary service Scribd today announced that it is expanding its global subscription reading service to include unlimited access to more than 10,000 comic books from some of the world's top comic publishers. This offering includes comics from some of the industry's top publishers -- including Marvel, Archie, Boom Studios, Dynamite, IDW/Top Shelf, Valiant and Zenescope. Notably, the comics cannot be read on Amazon tablets, a fact undisclosed by Scribd. The company's "all you can read" subscriptions cost $9 per month.
Google adds medical details to Knowledge Graph
Google has updated its Knowledge Graph, used to provide extra details in search results for common subjects, with health-related information. Vetted by a team of doctors at Google and the Mayo Clinic for accuracy, the new cards will bring up details for common health conditions, including symptoms, treatments, commonality, if it is contagious, and other relevant points, along with illustrations for some conditions.
Samsung brings Gear VR demonstrations to Best Buy stores
The Samsung Gear VR will be on hand to show to Best Buy customers from February 8. The Samsung virtual reality headset, used in combination with the Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, with SamMobile reporting it will be available in up to 100 stores as part of the Samsung Experience. A set of four demonstrations will apparently be available to try out, each for three minutes, including Samsung's Milk VR service.
Google renews Twitter deal, will index tweets in real time this summer
According to industry sources, Twitter has signed a deal giving Google full access to user tweets once more. The deal means that in the near future, user tweets will be indexed by the search engine giant faster, with the exposure helping to drive traffic for the microblogging service. Tweets could show up real-time in Google search results as soon as the early summer. A previous deal, expired in 2011, had similar aims, but was dissolved by Brin and company over disagreements over use of the data. Presumably, the slow decline of Google+ may have something to do with the deal rebirth. Terms of the deal are not known.
Avast discovers Android app malware that triggers days after initial installation
Millions of Android users are at risk from malicious apps offered for download on Google Play, an antivirus firm has revealed. A card game called Durak downloaded between 5 million and 10 million times, an IQ test, and a history app are all said by an Avast researcher to include malware which can trick users into paying for services or buying apps they do not need.
Uber working with Carnegie Mellon University on self-driving car research
Google may find it has competition in the development and production of self-driving cars, as Uber is planning to research the technology with Carnegie Mellon University. At the same time as the research plan announcement, reports claim that Google is exploring the possibility of its own competing ride-hailing app, though other sources seem to claim it to be an exaggeration.
Apple might be late to the party, but delivers a much better phablet experience
The Nexus 6 is the latest flagship Android smartphone from Google that is designed for developers and Android fans who prefer Google's stock iteration of its popular Android operating system. The massive six-inch device is meant to stand as a testament to the Android platform, its capabilities, and where the technology is currently heading. In the other corner, we have Apple's iPhone 6 Plus, the first "phablet" from Apple, which has famously resisted pushing into this segment in the recent past. Like the Nexus 6, the iPhone 6 Plus represents all that is currently state-of-the-art when it comes to iOS-powered smartphones. The two devices are undoubtedly two of the leading heavyweights in this segment, but which stands tall over the other in a head-to-head fight?
Possible friction over corporate culture between Nest and acquired company Dropcam
Dropcam CEO Greg Duffy and Nest's VP of Technology Yoky Matsuoka have both left the Google-owned Nest, Electronista has learned. Duffy, who sold his email software company Xobni to Yahoo in 2013, co-founded Dropcam, which was acquired by Nest. Matsuoka was an aspiring tennis star with a love of robotics, who became a founding member of Google X, and eventually headed up Nest's technology team.
Android tablet with collection of rear 3D sensors leaves ATAP
Google Glass is not the only hardware "graduating" from the company's experimental teams, with Project Tango also receiving similar treatment. The 3D-tracking tablet has exited the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) division and will take is place as a product within the main company itself, though its future prospects remain unknown
Companies agree to make in-app purchase systems more visible
Major app store operators Amazon, Apple, and Google -- as well as French publisher Gameloft -- have reached a deal with Italy's Antitrust and Competition Authority that will let them avoid fines for misleading people about so-called "free-to-play" or "freemium" apps. The Wall Street Journal reports that the companies have agreed to remove the word "free" from apps that may require in-app payments to be useful. The parties have also committed to making it clearer when a person is about to make an in-app purchase. All of the changes will be applied across the European Union.
Net income of $4.76B up year-on-year, fails to meet Wall Street expectations
Google managed to bring in gross consolidated revenues of $18.1 billion for the last quarter, a year-on-year increase of 15 percent and up from the previous quarter's $16.52 billion, according to its latest financial results. Increased traffic acquisition costs (TAC) of $3.62 billion bringing the ex-TAC revenues down to $14 billion. Net income also increased to $4.76 billion from $3.38 billion the same period last year, but the search company failed to meet analyst expectations.
Google adds Send Money option to Gmail in United Kingdom
Google is adding the Send Money option to Gmail in the United Kingdom. Originally available to US users since 2013, the option allows users to attach funds to an outbound email by selecting the £ symbol, which can also be used to request money, with funds transferred between users via Google Wallet. The feature is rolling out to all Gmail users in the UK over the age of 18 in the coming weeks.
Draft law in France would force Google, Facebook to act on hosted terror content
French lawmakers want to hold tech companies accountable for online hate speech. A proposed law, which will apparently be presented next month, will make Google, Facebook, and any company that offers online services to the public "accomplices" to hate-speech crimes, in an attempt to coerce them to monitor their services more closely, and force the removal of terror-related content.
Gigabit Internet service construction to commence in new cities in coming months
Just as expected, Google has revealed the next locations it will be launching Google Fiber, following its existing installations in Kansas City, Provo, and Austin. Confirming earlier reports, the high-speed Internet service will be rolling out in Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee; and Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte in North Carolina.
Acquisition of AuthenTec by Apple prompted removal of planned Nexus 6 function
The Google Nexus 6 was going to have a fingerprint sensor, but Apple forced a change in the phone's design, the ex-CEO of Motorola claims. The Android smartphone was initially going to have a fingerprint reader on the back, where a Motorola-branded dimple now resides, but Apple's acquisition of AuthenTec is said to have put a stop to those plans completely.
Third exploit may have already been patched
OS X 10.10.2, still in beta, fixes a pair of zero-day exploits uncovered by Google's Project Zero, reports say. The Project Zero team has newly-published data relating to three OS X vulnerabilities, in accordance with a 90-day disclosure policy; Apple was informed of them in October. One is believed to have already been fixed in OS X Yosemite as of January 8, but in theory the remaining two could be used to attack v10.10.1 users.
Companies could potentially pull older music to avoid paying
A new lawsuit has targeted Google, Rdio, Sony, and Apple (including Beats Music) over the music royalties associated with pre-1972 recordings, new reports say. Zenbu Magazines, which owns copyrights on many pre-1972 songs, says that the companies have been making money streaming recordings without paying their copyright holders. Within US copyright law, compositions have been protected since 1831, but sound recordings were only added in 1972, meaning that while owners of pre-1972 compositions have been paid for public performances, people holding equally-aged recording rights typically haven't.
Rumors surface of possible deals again, this time with Sprint and T-Mobile
Earlier today, web newsite The Information released statements from several unnamed sources that Google may begin offering wireless services as early as this year by reselling bandwidth from Sprint and T-Mobile. The rumor isn't anything new -- in fact the site posted a similar story last year, indicating Google would be reselling bandwidth from Sprint and Verizon. In spite of the annual speculation, the Wall Street Journal is also reporting on the subject, with additional information from the FCC.
New investors get just under 10 percent ownership stake
Today SpaceX released a succinct announcement that $1 billion had been raised in the latest financing round from two new investors -- search and advertising giant Google, and investment bank Fidelity, which now have a combined ownership share of "just under 10 percent" in SpaceX. Up until now, the company had been relying on investments from traditional venture-capital funders, but Google has its own agenda for helping the startup.
Requests spectrum above 24GHz range to be allocated for networking purposes
Google has asked for the Federal Communications Commission FCC to open up spectrum for Internet services from balloons and drones. The search giant sent a letter to the Commission, suggesting that a new spectrum band above the 24GHz range could be "useful for offering broadband access via airborne platforms such as high-altitude balloons or unmanned aerial vehicles.
Browser layout updated for Material Design, new iPhones
Google has updated the iOS version of Chrome with several major improvements. The most important may be overdue support for the higher resolutions of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. In parallel, though, the look of the browser has been revised to match Google's Material Design philosophy, which includes touches like "flatter" surfaces and more animation.
Google principle target of move to 'level playing field' for content producers
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, EU Commissioner of Digital Economy & Society Gunther Oettinger discussed the possibility of taxing internet companies like Google for displaying material to which they don't own the copyright. Despite two failed attempts in Germany and Spain, content producers believe search and news aggregators like Google profit off the content without licensing.
Google Calendar coming to iOS with Material Design language
Google appears to be preparing to bring its Google Calendar app for iOS as a standalone app in the near future, featuring the Material Design language makeover the Android version got in November. Leaked screenshots (below) show that the app will emphasize shortcuts to Gmail, Maps and Photos, and offer side-by-side monthly and day overviews. In addition to integrated notification settings, the app also offers integrations with other Google services.
Nexus 9 struggles to deliver a knockout blow against iPad Air 2
Ever since the day that I scored a world exclusive for Electronista by spotting the original Samsung Galaxy Tab in the wild ahead of its release, I have taken a keen interest in watching Android tablets continue to take on the iPad and fail. Google's success with Android has been largely dominated by smartphones, with no single Android tablet competitor getting anywhere near the sales numbers of Apple's iPad. With the continued rise of "phablets," which effectively do double duty as a smartphone and a tablet, it seems that the chance for Android tablets to truly challenge the success of the iPad may have passed. Despite this, Google is persisting with Android tablets of its own, with the Nexus 9 its latest hope. Does the Nexus 9 stand a chance against the undisputed champion of tablets, the Apple iPad Air 2?
Google Maps for Android updated with route-sharing option
Google has made some changes to Google Maps for Android, with some new features mirroring similar additions in the iOS update. Version 9.3 for Android introduces filtering restaurants by cuisine, as well as permanently dismissing the location settings pop-up. More importantly, Android Police notes the app has a Share Directions option, allowing the user to send an email to a contact containing instructions for following a specific route.
Likely a third will go to legal fees; plaintiffs may see $4,000 each
More specifics have been revealed in the second proposed settlement offer from Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe in a lawsuit stemming from the companies' informal "no poaching" agreement. The new proposal has the four companies willing to pay a combined $415 million, up from the previous settlement's $324.5 million, to end the anti-trust lawsuit. US Federal District Court Judge Lucy Koh will need to approve the proposal before it can be finalized.
Google Classroom launches apps for iOS and Android
Google has released iOS and Android apps to accompany its Google Classroom web platform. Initially launched last summer, Google Classroom allows teachers to create and collect assignments paperlessly, available to anyone with Google Apps for Education. The new native Classroom app for iOS and Android broadens the capacity for teachers and students to connect with each other, and features photo sharing, sharing content from other apps and offline caching.
Sales of Google Glass Explorer Edition to end January 19
Google is putting its Glass Explorer Program to an end, the search company has declared. The head-mounted wearable device is said to be "graduating" from the experimental Google X labs, with sales of the Glass Explorer Edition headset ending early next week, though the company claims the technology is far from ending completely; it said the Glass program will gain its own official Google team.
Spiral 2 Project Ara prototype has Marbell, Nvidia processor options
Project Ara, Google's attempt to create a modular smartphone, will be initially released in Puerto Rico this year, the company has revealed. News of the project's initial launch details come at the same time as the search company revealed its second prototype device, an upgraded collection of modules and endoskeleton which it calls Spiral 2.
Google Translate update to improve conversations joined by video option
An update that adds new features to Google Translate for Android and iOS has started to roll out. The previously-outlined update introduces two main features to the service, namely real-time translations of verbal conversations and the ability to see translations of signs and other text overlaid on top of a live video feed from the smartphone's rear camera.
New compensation amount likely to be higher than previous offer
A new settlement offer has been tendered in what's come to be known as the "anti-poaching" lawsuit against four of Silicon Valley's biggest tech companies. Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe were among those originally involved in a "gentlemen's agreement" that the companies would not actively try to recruit or poach employees from each other -- however once the conspiracy came to light, employees complained that the agreement limited opportunities and suppressed wages.