Google continues April Fool’s pranks with accidentally-ironic emoji web translation for mobile Chrome

In keeping up with tradition, Google started rolling out its annual April Fool’s Day pranks last 🌇 and has continued into the early 🌅. A new post on the Chrome blog announced the availability of a new Google 🇺🇸🔄🇫🇷 feature that converts webpages into emoji icons for faster 📖:

Suddenly we realized that we could apply the magic of Emoji to webpages. Not only does this pictorial and theatrical language allow us to communicate complex emotions, it’s also far more compact. One Emoji symbol can easily replace dozens of characters, improving efficiency and comprehension on the go. It turns out the best way to communicate in the future is to look to the past: the ancient Egyptians were really onto something with their hieroglyphs.

The 😜 has a bit of an ironic twist, though… Read more

Chromecast launches in UK, Canada, Germany, several more countries

chromecast

After much speculation, Google has officially announced that the Chromecast is available in 11 new countries across Europe and North America. These countries include Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. The streaming device has been available in the United States since its original announcement in July of last year.

In the UK, the Chromecast will run £30 and be available from Amazon, Google Play, Currys, and PC World. A BBC iPlayer app with Chromecast support will also start rolling out to customers in Europe today. In France, users will get access to local content providers TV Pluzz and SFR. Finally, German customers will have access to Watchever with Maxdome coming soon. Google says that it will continue to work with more local content providers to expand these options.

If you are located in one of the 11 new countries, get your hands on the device at one of your local or online retailers, including Amazon, Google Play, Currys PC World, Elkjøp, FNAC, Saturn, Media Markt and many others.

Read more

Google and Viacom finally settle legal battle over YouTube copyright issues

Viacom_logo1

In a legal fight which has stretched over seven years, Google seems to have finally resolved their issues with Viacom over copyright violations of videos uploaded to YouTube. Information on the details of the settlement have not been publicly released.

Re/code received this rather bland statement from the two companies.

Google and Viacom today jointly announced the resolution of the Viacom vs. YouTube copyright litigation. This settlement reflects the growing collaborative dialogue between our two companies on important opportunities, and we look forward to working more closely together.

Read more

Google releasing Chromecast in the UK March 19, no pricing announced yet

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 3.55.56 PM

Google is releasing its Chromecast streaming device in the United Kingdom next week, according to a Gizmodo source. Above is a photo taken by a Currys PC World employee which shows an announcement on the store’s internal portal. That announcement pegs March 19th as the launch date. According to the article, the store already has the device in stock.

The Chromecast launched in the United States last year but hasn’t yet been available outside the country. Germany and France are also said to be included in the international launch next week. No information on the device’s price has been released yet.

Update: We’ve received a clearer shot. Shown above.

Asus Chromebox preorders now available for $179, shipping March 14

After first announcing last month that its smallest-ever Chromebox would be arriving sometime in March for $179, Asus today started accepting preorders for the device through a number of online retailers. Amazon is currently accepting orders and listing an expected release date of March 17th for the new Chromebox.

The new Chromebox from Asus will actually arrive in three CPU configurations. Preorders today start for the dual-core 1.4GHz Celeron 2955U model, while an Intel Core i3 will also arrive March 14 as will an i7 model for outside of North America. Other specs include 2GB RAM, a 16GB SSD, 4 USB 3.0 ports, SD card reader, HDMI, DisplayPort, Bluetooth 4.0, and dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n. That’s all inside a case that measures 4.88″ x 4.88″ x 1.65” and comes in at 2.2 pounds.  Read more

Vudu announces Chromecast support coming soon to its iOS and Android apps

chromecast

Since its initial release last year, the Chromecast has added support for a plethora of apps and services, including Plex, Vevo, Songza, and many more. Last month, Google announced the Chromecast SDK, which it said would make supporting the device even easier for developers. Online streaming video service Vudu has now announced that it too will soon support Chromecast with that SDK.

On its website Sunday, the WalMart-owned company stated that both its Android and iOS apps will soon receive updates that add Chromecast support. The company also adds that streaming will be available through Chrome on Windows and Mac, although that has been available since day one.

There are no details available as to when we can expect the Android and iOS Vudu apps to be updated, although we can’t imagine it taking too long. Rdio and Beats Music are also expected to add Chromecast support soon, so it’s clear that the SDK is going to help beef up the app selection significantly.

Samsung’s new Chromebook 2s feature HD displays and faux leather stitching of Galaxy line

Chromebook2-13_013_Dynamic_Titanium Gray

Samsung’s new Chromebooks leaked a little bit last week and again over the weekend, but now they are official.  The biggest upgrades include the form factor featuring the faux leather stitching made famous by its Galaxy Note 3 and a new 1080P 13-inch display on the higher end $399 model. Both still use Exynos 5 Octocore processors that lack a little bit of the oomph of Haswell Intel processors, but they compete very well in battery life (8.5-9 hours claimed by Samsung). These machines also have wake times of less than one second and cold boots in less than ten.

Another prime area of improvement is the Hangouts video chat experience enhance by a 720P front side camera paired with improved mic and 2x 2W speakers. Read more

Developer version of Chrome OS lets you access multiple profiles at the same time

Google has announced an experimental feature in the developer version of Chrome OS that allows you to access more than one user profile at the same time, easily flicking between them, as well as passing both tabs and files back-and-forth between profiles.

Switching profiles is as easy as clicking on the profile picture in the system tray popup. […] One nice thing, but still highly experimental, is that you can move windows to different profiles with a simple right click in the window top bar. As you can see in the video, even the Files App even supports this feature.

To access the feature in the Chrome OS dev channel, enter the following line:

chrome://flags/#enable-multi-profiles

If you’re not currently using the dev channel, you can find instructions for switching here, but note that by definition you can expect to experience some glitches. The stable channel is always recommended when working on anything important.

Chrome 34 beta released w/ hands-free Voice Search, responsive images, new APIs, more

Google has just promoted Chrome 34 to the beta channel, bringing with it a few new features and a lot of new apps/extension APIs for developers. Perhaps the most notable new feature for users on Mac, Windows, and Linux is hands-free Google Voice Search, allowing users to initiate a voice search on Google using the “Ok Google” command without the need of an extension:

  • Responsive Images and Unprefixed Web Audio
  • Hands-free Google Voice Search in Chrome
  • Import supervised users onto new computers
  • A number of new apps/extension APIs
  • Lots of under the hood changes for stability and performance

While users have been able to download a browser extension for Chrome since November that allows them to activate a voice search with the “Ok Google” voice command (just like on Android), it the native feature without the need of the extension will land for all Chrome users soon. Here’s how to enable it: Read more

HP 11.6″ Chromebook LTE model available from Best Buy for $249 ($30 cheaper than the Wi-Fi model)

If you’re looking to give Google’s ChromeOS a try, the 11.6″ HP LTE-equiped Chromebook may be your best option right now. The non-LTE version of the Chromebook usually sells for $279, but the LTE model is actually available now for only $249. The connectivity isn’t the only difference between the two, either. The LTE model comes with 16 GB of flash storage while the more expensive, less-capable version uses a standard hard drive of the same size.

Both come with 2 GB of RAM, a 1.7 GHz Samsung Exynos processor, built-in webcam, support for 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and weigh only 2.3 pounds. Both models are also available in a range of colors. Obviously, the connectivity differs between the two, as the LTE model comes with support for Verizon’s 4G LTE network.

Read more