Hugo Barra resigns from position at Google, will join China’s Xiaomi

Image: Wired.com

Image: Wired.com

According to a new report from AllThingsD, citing “sources in position to know”, one of Google’s top Android executives is leaving the company. The report states that Hugo Barra, who was the vice president of product management for Android, will soon be departing the company to join Chinese phone maker Xiaomi. Xiaomi produces its own high-end Android-based devices, though with a heavy custom skin on top. Barra originally joined Google in 2008 as a group product manager, having previously worked for speech firm Nuance, and has moved up the totem pole since then.

This news comes on the heels of Andy Rubin, the creator Android, stepping down from his position earlier this year. Given that Android is Google’s top product right now, Barra’s decision, especially when coupled with Rubin’s departure, will undoubtedly cause some tension within the company. Barra often appeared on stage at Google events, most recently at the second-generation Nexus 7 unveil.

AllThingsD also says that Barra tendered his resignation only recently, but that it was before he ended a romantic relationship with another Google employe. It is now believed that Sergey Brin, who recently split from his wife, is currently involved with Barra’s ex.  Sticky.

Update: Barra’s G+ statement:

A new Android chapter

After nearly 5½ years at Google and almost 3 years as a member of the Android team — the most amazing group of people I’ve ever worked with in my life — I have decided to start a new career chapter.

In a few weeks, I’ll be joining the Xiaomi team in China to help them expand their incredible product portfolio and business globally — as Vice President, Xiaomi Global.  I’m really looking forward to this new challenge, and am particularly excited about the opportunity to continue to help drive the Android ecosystem.

It has been an amazing ride and true honor to be part of the Android team at Google, and I especially want to thank +Andy Rubin , +Hiroshi Lockheimer , +Sundar Pichai and +Vic Gundotra for their phenomenal support and mentorship over the years.

+Android team, I will truly miss you all!

Sundar Pinchai’s statement:
Congratulations to Hugo on his exciting new adventure. We’ll miss him at Google but we’re thrilled that he’s sticking with Android. Best wishes Hugo!

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Google drops Nexus 4 price to just $199 for 8GB, $249 for 16GB

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Google has just announced that it is cutting the price of its Nexus 4 in Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, Korea, the United States, and the UK. The device now runs just $199 for 8GB of storage and $249 for 16GB in the United States. Previously, it was priced at $299 for 8GB and $349 for 16GB.

Even though the Nexus 4 was released nearly a year ago, it’s still very solid smartphone, and will continue to get updates directly from Google for a long time to come. The device is powered by a 1.5GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor with 2GB of RAM and an 8MP camera.

Google is expected to announce a new Nexus device sometime this fall, though exact details still remain up in the air. Some rumors point to Motorola manufacturing the device, while others claim that it will be LG again.

At the same price as many phones are on-contract, the $199 off-contract Nexus 4 is a great deal. It’s available on Google Play now and will ship within 1-2 business days, though that may change depending on demand. Read more

AT&T’s Moto X now available to purchase directly through MotoMaker, $579 off-contract, ships in 8 days

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Five days after arriving on AT&T, Motorola announced today that its new Moto X flagship smartphone is now available to purchase directly through its Moto Maker website. Previously customers were forced to purchase the device through AT&T and enter a code on the Moto Maker site to start the customization process. Starting today, Motorola will allow AT&T customers to purchase the device directly through the Moto Maker site for $199 (16GB) or $299 (32GB) on contract, and it’s also making the device available without a contract for $579 (16GB) or $629 (32GB). While Motorola originally planned to ship devices ordered through Moto Maker in 4 days, the site is currently quoting a shipping time of 8 days.

The Moto Maker tool is the standout feature of the Moto X, allowing users to choose from over 2000 customization options for back, front and accent colors, unique wallpapers, and engraving. Unfortunately, we found out earlier this month that engraving won’t be available initially due to some manufacturing issues.

Verizon announced that Moto X would arrive in black and white on August 29, but the Moto Maker customization tool remains and exclusive to AT&T. Other major US carriers are expected to start carrying the Moto X by early September.  Read more

Rumored Sony Xperia ‘Honami’ smartphone appears in official teaser ahead of Sept. 4 event

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A couple images allegedly showing an upcoming Sony smartphone codenamed Honami have been showing up in recent weeks. Honami, aka the Xperia i1, might have just made its first official appearance ahead of a Sony press even scheduled for September 4th in Berlin with the company posting the above teaser image to its Google+ page (via Engadget). There is still no confirmation from Sony that this is indeed the 5-inch device that we’ve been hearing about, but from what we can see the image does seem to line up with earlier leaks. Other specs that have been rumored for Honami include a 20 megapixel camera, 1080p display, and Snapdragon 800 processor. Judging by the image above and the accompanying “Have we captured your attention yet?” tagline, Sony will likely spend a lot of time focusing on the rumored 20 megapixel camera when it finally unveils the device. We’ll be on hand early next month to bring you all the official details.  Read more

Droid 5 allegedly appears in leaked photos, 5-row QWERTY keyboard still intact

Fans of the QWERTY keyboard can take a collective sigh of relief this weekend as it looks like Motorola is not quite done with its Droid line of keyboard-phones. Originally posted on Chinese micro-blogging site Weibo (via Engadget), several photos of Motorola’s alleged Droid 5 have leaked.

The device show the same general design as the Droid 4. The 5-row keyboard is still intact as is a screen somewhere between 4.3-inches and 4.5-inches. The device appears to lack any sort of captive buttons and instead uses on-screen controls. The Droid 5 will also allegedly feature NFC and a “shockproof” water- and dust-resistant design.

The Verizon and 4G LTE logos that we’ve all come to know and love are present suggesting that the device will be available from Big Red like all of its predecessors. Release and pricing information, however, is nowhere to be found so we still have some more waiting to do on that front.  Read more

Motorola teases Moto X Developer Edition with unlockable bootloader, 32GB of storage

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Following in the footsteps of Samsung and several others, Motorola has just updated the Moto X’s “ways to buy” page with a new variant that has an unlockable bootloader and 32GB of storage (via Droid-Life). The Developer Edition Moto X is simply listed as “coming soon” with no pricing details. Given that the 32GB AT&T model runs $629, however, it’d be surprising to see it cost any less than that.

In addition to the more developer-friendly enhancements, the device also features several cosmetic changes. The front of the device is all-black with a gloss design while the back is white and has a woven pattern on it. “DEVELOPER EDITION” is also engraved on the back and carrier logos are nowhere to be found.

While Motorola teases that the developer edition will “have a look of its own,” you could most likely build a device very similar with MotoMaker once it is fully functional.  Read more

Google ready to raise its TV profile by spending $1B+ on NFL streaming deal?

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AllThingsD reports that Google may be in discussions with NFL to buy the rights to the Sunday Ticket package when DirectTV’s contract runs out at the end of the 2014 season.

Today, according to sources, Google CEO Larry Page, along with YouTube content boss Robert Kyncl, met with a delegation from the NFL led by commissioner Roger Goodell. And the Sunday Ticket package was among the topics of discussion, according to people familiar with the meeting …  Read more

Chrome adds smarter omnibox suggestions, WebRTC support on Android

chromeGoogle announced today on its Chrome Blog that it is beginning to roll out smarter omnibox suggestions for Chrome users that it says will provide “more timely and contextually relevant suggestions.” The feature has been available for a while in beta and Google noted the improved suggestions are based on websites users recently visited. The new features come alongside the release of the Chrome 29 stable release for Windows, Mac, and Linux, which also brings support for new apps and extensions APIs.

Another new feature coming in Chrome 29 is the ability to reset Chrome back to its original state, disabling all added extensions, through an easy to access option located in Settings: Read more

Google adds Waze’s real-time incident reporting to Maps on iOS & Android, integrates search/StreetView into Waze apps

Real-time-waze-reporting-google-mapsGoogle announced today on its Google Maps blog that it’s finally tapping into the talent and technology it picked up with its acquisition of Waze back in June to integrate real time incident reports from Waze into Google Maps. The new integration means that when Waze users report incidents for everything from accidents to road closures, Google Maps users on both iOS and Android will now be able to benefit:

Users of Google Maps for Mobile will now benefit from real time incident reports from Waze users. This means when Wazers report accidents, construction, road closures and more on Waze, the updates will also appear on the Google Maps app for Android and iOS.

The features will initially be limited to users in certain locations, including: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Germany, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Switzerland, UK and the US. In addition, as Google first hinted back in June, the company will also be integrating Google Search into the Waze apps on iOS and Android, while the Waze Map Editor now has access to Google Street View imagery: Read more

YouTube 5.0 update begins rolling out to Android devices, features brand new interface, in-app multitasking

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Google has just began rolling out version 5.0.21 of its YouTube app to Android devices (via Android Police). The update is arguably the biggest the app has ever seen and includes a brand new interface, as well as much more. The interface is now entirely based on cards, much like the Google+ app. The slide-out navigation has also been changed, though only slightly. Finally, you can now give videos a thumbs up or thumbs down, or flag it, without having to expand the video description.

Also new is in-app multi-tasking. Now, you can minimize any video to a tiny window in the corner and continue to let it play, even when navigating through other portions of the app. You can bring it back to the forefront by tapping or dragging the window back to the center and dismiss it by swiping away the card.  Read more