Microsoft asks EU antitrust regulators to probe Motorola Mobility, says Google is killing Web video

Microsoft requested European Union antitrust regulators to probe Motorola Mobility on claims that the United States phone manufacturer is blocking sales of Windows and Xbox products.

“Earlier today, Microsoft filed a formal competition law complaint with the European Commission (EC) against Motorola Mobility and Google,” wrote Microsoft’s Vice President and Deputy General Counsel David Heiner in a blog post this morning. “We have taken this step because Motorola is attempting to block sales of Windows PCs, our Xbox game console and other products.”

Microsoft’s post, “Google: Please Don’t Kill Video on the Web,” lambasted Motorola Mobility for not making industry standard patents available on reasonable and fair terms, and for using those patents to block competitors from shipping products.

The industry apparently agreed many years ago to define common technical standards for everyone to use and build compatible Wi-Fi and video products. However, Heiner contended, Motorola is backtracking on its word and attempting to use standard patents for “killing video on the Web.”

More information is available below.

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NYTimes: Google X Glasses will be sold by year end with augmented reality interface

In what seems to confirm our earlier reports, (here and here), The New York Times’ Nick Bilton offered more information today on the Heads Up Display Glasses that Google is building. Some of the new bullet points are as follows:

  • The glasses are not designed for constant wear; although, Google expects the nerdiest users to wear them a lot. However, they will be more like smartphones—used when needed.
  • Internally, the Google X team is actively discussing the privacy implications of the glasses, and the company wants to make sure that people know if someone wearing a pair of glasses with a built-in camera is recording them.
  • One of the key people involved with the glasses is Steve Lee, a Google engineer and creator of the Google mapping software Latitude.
  • The other key leader on the glasses project is Sergey Brin, Google’s cofounder, who is currently spending most of his time in the Google X labs.

On a personal note, I think this will be the most exciting technology product release this year.

 

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LG announces ‘L-Style’ Optimus smartphone line for MWC

Just ahead of Mobile World Congress set to take place in Barcelona, Spain from Feb. 27 to March 1, LG has unveiled a new line of ‘L-Style’ smartphones including the 3.2-inch LG Optimus L3, the 4-inch Optimus L5, and the 4.3-inch Optimus L7. LG is calling the line its “new design identity” and plans an official unveiling for MWC later this month. As for the new design concept, a translation of LG’s press release mentions a ‘leather back cover’,  a thin design with squared angles, and a “metal feel of sophistication”.

It looks like the L3, which is landing in Europe this March, will most likely be the entry-level device for the new line, as its the only one not shipping with Ice Cream Sandwich. The two other devices, the L5 and L7, will both run Android 4.0 out of the gate but specifics on specs and pricing for all three devices will have to wait for MWC. Check out LG’s press shot of the devices after the break.
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Barnes & Noble launching 8GB Nook Tablet, coming to Walmart Feb. 22

It looks like Barnes & Noble plans to release a new 8GB model of its Nook Tablet that is only available in a 16 GB version for $249. The proof comes from documentation acquired by The Verge, and as the publication pointed out, it is pretty much safe to assume the new 8GB Nook Tab will come in closer to the price tag of its biggest competitor the Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire. At the launch of the Nook Tablet, B&N CEO William Lynch claimed the Kindle Fire is “deficient for a media tablet” due to its 8GB of storage (6GB available for user content). According to the document, the 8GB Nook Tablet will be landing in Walmart this Wednesday, Feb. 22.

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Google quietly releases Foursquare-like leaderboards baked into Latitude

As pointed out by AndroidWorld (via Engadget), Google’s latest update to Maps for Android only listed minor performance improvements. However, some report it seems to have introduced a new Foursquare-like global leaderboard integrated into Latitude that ranks Google+ users based on points earned by checking-in. Many report having to check-in before being able to access the feature, and it does not appear to have rolled out to everyone as of yet. Google has not made any official announcements, but we will keep you posted when we get official word from Google on the new feature.
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Groklaw: Oracle’s case against Google dwindles down to a minute fraction of its original $6B

As Jason Kincaid pointed out, Groklaw did a thorough post on the state of the Oracle Java suite. The short version: Oracle will be lucky to get $100 million let alone the $6 billion it was originally after.

Oracle has told the court it wishes to withdraw its last claim of the ‘476 patent, claim 14, no doubt having read Google’s letter to the judge asking for permission to file a motion for summary judgment of invalidity of claim 14. This is the last claim of that patent still in the case. The USPTO in December issued a final rejection of 17 of the 21 claims of this ‘476 patent, anyway, including all seven of the patent’s independent claims, and while Oracle has until February 20 to appeal, the handwriting is on the wall. Whatever it decides about an appeal, claim 14, and hence patent ‘476, is no longer in this litigation.

It is a long read, but the short is that Google has talented lawyers disassembling every one of Oracle’s claims bit by bit and proving there is little—if anything—legitimate.

Even if Oracle somehow gets the $100 million that is left over, there is no longer any concern for the fate of the Android platform. Read more

In a few short hours, CyanogenMod gets enough donations for new servers from its community

As the CyanogenMod team works to continue releasing new “nightly builds” of its custom Android firmware, it just released a blog post this morning asking for donations from the community. The team said it needed donations to purchase new servers to keep releasing new builds.

CyanogenMod is not a for-profit business. We are just a bunch of geeks, trying to make our phones more awesome. The donations we get currently cover our operating costs and occasionally go towards developer devices. This time, I need to ask for help from the community for something a bit larger. We need to purchase these servers in order to bring the build infrastructure back to full capacity.

The CyanogenMod community quickly jumped into action, and the CyanogenMod team earned the money it needed (and perhaps a bit more) in only a few short hours to purchase the necessary servers. The team will buy “Xeon-class boxes with lots of RAM” next week. Check out the full statement below:
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Samsung Galaxy Note Review: Is the huge screen worth the portability tradeoff?

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It is very easy to make a snap judgment on the 5.3-inch-screened Samsung Galaxy Note. Yes, it is significantly bigger than the smartphone you use now. It even makes the Galaxy Nexus seem petite in comparison.

The dimensions of the Note put it somewhere between the biggest smartphones you ever saw and the 7-inch tablet form factor made popular by Amazon, BlackBerry, Motorola, Samsung, and pretty much everyone else except Apple.

However, the Note makes and receives phone calls, so it is a phone and it should be judged as such, right? End of story?

That is where you are mistaken. The phone functionality on the Note is a tertiary function at best. I see it as more like a reason to not carry a phone as well as the Note in your pocket. With that said, for a growing number of people, myself included, the actual “phone part” of a smartphone is very low on my list for what I want to do with the device in my pocket.

I make or receive only a few calls per day, and most of those are while I am at home/office with Google Voice and a headset or home phone. Therefore, other things rank higher on what I want to do with a device like this:

  • Maps are becoming the most used and most important feature on my phone, except for secondary review websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc. I get all of my travel lookups from the Maps.app. I do almost all of my turn-by-turn navigation and lookups on this device much more efficiently with its huge display and fast network connection.
  • The Web Browser is the most important app outside of Maps. I would love the Note to somehow get the Chrome Browser before Samsung gets around to upgrading it to ICS. Alas, the stock browser is still unbelievably fast/crisp.
  • Gmail/Calendar/Contacts. You know…work.
  • AIM, GoogleTalk, GoogleVoice, and other instant messaging.
  • Social: Twitter, Google Plus Facebook, etc.
  • Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, and other Music and Videos.
  • Various other apps, such as my bank’s check cashing app, WordPress, Kayak, and a bunch of Angry Birds-type games.

Without exception, I can do any of the above better on a 5.3-inch 720P display than on a typical smartphone display. The one caveat: (As you can see from the gallery) moving my mid-sized thumb from one side of the portrait screen to the other is a bit of a stretch when using it one-handed. This does not turn out to be a problem very often, though, perhaps only 5 percent of my time. This is not a one-handed device.

Therefore, the Note is about tradeoffs:  Amazing, huge display = better experience vs. portability. In my particular use-case, I am happy to make the trade. Here are the details:

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Google teases Android announcement for Mobile World Congress 2012

Google made things official for Android’s appearance at the upcoming Mobile World Congress set to take place later this month in Barcelona, Spain from Feb. 27 to March 1, 2012. There are not many hints about exactly what Google plans to show off f when it comes to Android, but the teaser countdown page on Android.com shows a graphic of the Android mascot being unboxed. We will be keeping you posted in just over 9 days when MWC kicks off. Despite Samsung confirming it will not hold a press event, we also heard rumors of a mystery Android 4.0 device being unveiled at the event, as well as a 10.1-inch version of the Galaxy Note.
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FTC criticizes poor privacy disclosures in apps for kids, takes aim at Android apps’ permissions rate

The Federal Trade Commission released a report today (PDF) based on a survey that found apps for children do not fully disclose the types of data collected nor do they adequately educate parents about data harvesting, and the report’s spotlight is set on both Android Marketplace and the Apple App Store.

The consumer protection agency scrutinized privacy policies, recommended each developer give comprehensible disclosures on how data is accrued and shared, including whether children’s data is linked to social network apps, and it even mentioned conducting a six-month review on disclosures and using enforcement if needed. The report focused on the two main app stores themselves and requested more be done to tell children and their parents about privacy concerns…

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Swype Beta updated with Ice Cream Sandwich compatibility

Your favorite custom keyboard for Android, Swype Beta, just updated with Ice Cream Sandwich compatibility (via Android Central). Sadly, this update still does not make Swype available on the Android Market, but you can download it from the Swype website. For those of you unfamiliar: Swype is a custom keyboard preloaded on a few phones that lets you drag a finger across the keyboard to type. It is very intuitive and definitely worth a try.

Besides seeing ICS compatibility, Swype Beta also saw an upgrade for improved word accuracy, new downloadable languages, and add-ons with DragonGo.

You can download the new Swype Beta from Swype’s website.

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Facebook for Android updated with games, apps, and improved browsing experience

Facebook for Android was just given a significant update that brought a number of new features, including access to games, apps, and an overall improved browsing experience. Facebook also included a “navigate anywhere” interface with a quicker single-tap access to groups, pages, and settings. Photos will now show tags and allow you to zoom in, and the update claims to bring faster push notifications.

Other improvements listed with the update include the ability to see your mobile timeline, and the ability to access subscriptions and friend lists. The update is available in the Market now.

 

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