Sundar Pichai talks MVNO, Android Pay, Project Titan, more at Mobile World Congress

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Google SVP Sundar Pichai sat down with Bloomberg’s Brad Stone at the Mobile World Congress today in Barcelona, Spain, and as happens often, he had some pretty interesting things to say. Among other topics, the Chrome and Android lead at Google talked about the company’s goals for improving the world’s Internet connectivity through various projects (including the company’s MVNO plans), Google’s further mobile payment ambitions with Android Pay, how Android will tie into virtual reality, and more… Read more

Amid turbulence, Google Plus loses its latest leader – Horowitz again takes over

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TechCrunch:

…confirmed with Google, that David Besbris [above] has left his role as the head of the company’s social and identity product. He has been replaced by Bradley Horowitz, a longtime VP of product for Google+.

Google Plus seems to be in tumult and it sounds like it is being dismantled for its good parts including Photos and Hangouts. Perhaps the feed will turn into a more Twitter-like product. Who knows at this point—we’ll likely get a roadmap at Google I/O in May.

As for new lead Bradley Horowitz, he never really left Google+ through Vic Gundotra’s departure and will probably oversee the split of the units which are said to have already been reduced by half.

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Samsung announces Galaxy S6 and S6 edge w/ new glass & metal designs, available April 10

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Samsung today has officially unveiled the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge at its event in Barcelona during Mobile World Congress. The devices feature a new design as well as all sorts of updated specifications under the hood. Gone is the classic all-plastic look and feel and in is a mixture of glass and metal.

Check out our hands-on and comparison video below:

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Google shares plans for new Mountain View campus using lightweight, moveable structures (Gallery)

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Google just announced its plans to revamp its campus in Mountain View and increase its square footage by constructing what it described as moveable, lightweight block-like structures. We’ve had hints that such as project was in the works, but the company is now sharing official renderings of the planned campus as it officially submits plans to the city. Head below for a full gallery from Google.  Read more

Google purchases rights to the entire .app top-level domain for $25 million

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Google paid $25 million to get exclusive rights to the .app TLD, according to a new report. TLDs, or “top-level domains” are the bits like “.com” and “.net” at the end of web domains. ICANN, the organization responsible for managing web addresses, has been launching many new, customized TLDs in recent months.

The purchase means that Google will be able to create web addresses like “google.app” or “android.app.” Google, of course, has its own domain registry where users can buy their own web addresses. The .app TLD may become available through that route, though Google hasn’t confirmed those plans.

It’s also possible that Google could have other plans for the domain. Unlike other TLDs currently held by the company (such as .how and .dad), .app provides a unique opportunity to set the Google Play store apart from competitors by offering developers the chance to get a .app domain linking directly to their Google Play page.

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Google’s Android and Chrome lead comments on Apple relationship, China, Google Play ads

Sundar Pichai

Google’s Sundar Pichai recently sat down with Forbes to talk about the Mountain View company’s ambitions in China, its relationship with Apple, and what its overall vision looks like. Some interesting quotes from Google’s Android and Chrome head have surfaced as a result, and among other comments, Pichai took a moment to respond to constant criticism from Apple that Google is in the business of monetizing its users. Pichai also touched on Google’s aspirations in China as well as the sponsored ad program it is testing in Google Play…

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Google invests $300M in largest ever fund for residential solar power

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Google has invested $300M in a SolarCity fund designed to bring solar power to around 25,000 homes. Debt financing brings the total to $750M, making it the largest ever investment in residential solar power, reports Reuters.

While investing in solar power makes sound economic sense for homeowners, as well as being good for the environment, many are deterred by the typical $20-30,000 upfront cost of purchasing the panels. The SolarCity fund instead allows homeowners to lease the panels, paying a monthly fee to do so …  Read more

Google reportedly planning to revamp mobile payment offering at I/O with launch of ‘Android Pay’

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Google is planning to overhaul its mobile payment system in May during its I/O developer conference, a new report suggests. Google recently purchased “some” technology from SoftCard, with several major US carriers planning to pre-load Wallet on all new phones in the coming months.

The revitalized payment software is being referred to as “Android Pay” by Ars Technica, and like Apple’s own similarly named product, it will support payments in physical retailers as well as in-app sales. The entire offering will take advantage of Host Card Emulation, which essentially presents the phone to an NFC terminal as a clone of the card.

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Google’s Lunar XPrize competition will come down to 500-metre moon race between two robots

The two competing lunar robots, Astrobotic top, Hakuto bottom

The two competing lunar robots, Astrobotic top, Hakuto bottom

Google’s Lunar XPrize competition, to be the first team to take a robot to the moon, looks like it will come down to a head-to-head race between two competing robots–one American, one Japanese.

While five teams were awarded prizes for achieving key milestones along the way to the final goal, two of the robots appear set to get there first, jointly commissioning the same SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to carry them to the moon in the second half of 2016, with a race across the lunar surface determining the winner …  Read more

Google updates Blogger terms, bans explicit content starting March 23rd

blogger-homepageGoogle announced tonight that it will be updating its adult content policy on the Blogger platform once again. Starting March 23rd, no sites built on Blogger will be allowed to publicly share “sexually explicit” content or media containing “graphic nudity.”

Sites that currently host objectionable content will be required to either remove it or set the blog to private. Google also suggests exporting a site and moving it to a different host if neither of those options are suitable. Blogs that violate the policy after March 25th will risk being set to private automatically. Google says no sites will be completely deleted due to this change.

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LG announces new 4-pack of mid-range smartphones: Magna, Spirit, Leon and Joy

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LG unveiled its 2015 midrange smartphone lineup tonight during the Oscars (smooth). Named Magna, Spirit, Leon and Joy, they vary from 5 to 4 inches in size and carry decent specs across the board. The question for me is how badly has LG messed with the Lollipop that will go on these and of course base prices which will be unveiled at MWC  next week. Lots more imags, specs and even a press release below. Read more