Google reaches ‘ground-breaking’ deals with French publishers for out-of-print books

According to a post on Google’s European Public Policy Blog, the company is forging groundbreaking partnerships with French publishers that it believes “will put France ahead of the rest of the world in bringing long lost out-of-print works back to life.” The agreements, Google claimed, will put an end to roughly six years of legal disputes with several publishers and authors in the country. The deals will also allow Google to continue ahead in its goal to bring the almost 75 percent of books that are currently out of print and unavailable to most. The result is publishers working with Google to “promote and commercialize” scanned copies of out-of-print works:

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Andy Rubin: 900k Android devices are being activated daily

Are you ready for an Android fun fact? In a tweet that shot down rumors about him leaving Google to join new startup Cloud Car, Android boss Andy Rubin revealed there are now 900,000 Android devices being activated on a daily basis. That is a 200,000-unit increase since December.

A few Meebo services already shutting down next month

The reason most people do not like when a larger company—like Google—acquires a smaller company is that the smaller usually begins to shut down services. We have seen it happen a ton, and Google’s acquisition of Meebo is no different. Just after the acquisition was announced earlier this week, Engadget reported that Meebo would begin shutting down a number of its services starting July 11. Among the features being axed are Meebo Messenger, Sharing on Meebo, MeeboMe, and all the mobile apps that Meebo makes available. The closing down of services is most likely happening because the Meebo team is set to work on Google+ features.

Meebo did state that they plan to keep its Bar product alive for a few more months, and it will make chat logs and history available for download. Is anyone upset?

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Google reportedly working on Google Wallet 2.0, as Sprint allegedly works to launch its own solution

Google Wallet is certainly an impressive piece of technology, but only coming pre-installed on one carrier in the US, it’s not exactly off to the greatest start. In hopes of revamping the service, Google has begun work on Wallet 2.0, reports The Verge. The revamped service will allegedly featured a more cloud-based architecture, which will be helped by Google’s recent acquisition of TxVia. Currently, Google Wallet only comes pre-installed on the Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus on Sprint. For Google Wallet 2.0 to really take off, it would make sense for Google to get a few more partners on board. However, the other three major carriers are attached to their own mobile payment product, called Isis.

But, Google may not be partnered with the Now Network for too much longer. According to a new report out today from the NFC Times, Sprint is currently working with partners to launch its own mobile payment service — allegedly called “Touch”. It’s not exactly clear if Sprint plans to drop Google Wallet, but offering their own service would give them more control, and it wouldn’t make sense for them to hold on two both platforms. We’re sure more information will come soon.

As for more on Google 2.0, that will most likely be discussed at this year’s Google I/O conference, taking place from June 27th – 29th in San Francisco.

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Google’s VP counters anti-competitive allegations from Nextag CEO

Google attempted to “set the record straight” today with a blog post aimed to dismantle rising anti-competitive claims against the world’s leading search engine.

The Wall Street Journal published a scathing post yesterday—penned by the CEO of online retailer Nextag—that essentially painted Google as a monopoly. No—Jeff Katz did not paint; he declared:

Google has enjoyed this unrivaled position for nearly a decade. It is the most popular search engine in the world, controlling nearly 82% of the global search market and 98% of the mobile search market. Its annual revenue is larger than the economies of the world’s 28 poorest countries combined. And its closest competitor, Bing, is so far behind in both market share and revenue that Google has become, effectively, a monopoly.

The company has used its position to bend the rules to help maintain its online supremacy, including the use of sophisticated algorithms weighted in favor of its own products and services at the expense of search results that are truly most relevant. [...]

At my company, Nextag, a comparison shopping site for products and services, we regularly analyze the level of search traffic we get from Google. It’s easy to see when Google makes changes to its algorithms that effectively punish its competitors, including us. Our data, which we shared with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 21, 2011, shows without a doubt that Google has stacked the deck. And as a result, it has shifted from a true search site into a commerce site—a commerce site whose search algorithm favors products and services from Google and those from companies able to spend the most on advertising.

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Press shot for AT&T’s Motorola ‘Dinara’ leaks online (Photo)

Motorola announced its Dinara smartphone— officially known as the “xT928″ – for China Telecom last November, but a supposed press leak of the AT&T variation just surfaced stateside.

The Verge received a media shot of the rumored device today (above). As the report noted, the assumed Atrix 2 successor boasts a 720p display, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and 4G LTE. The notable feature, however, is not really a feature at all: the Dinara lacks physical home buttons on the front display. Much is unknown about the smartphone this point; even its name is not set in stone. However, the “July 26″ stamp within the date widget might finally give a hint as to when this device will launch.

Google closed its $12.5 billion Motorola Mobility acquisition last Month when China gave the merger an overdue go-ahead. Motorola promptly filed an 8-K form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the deal’s transaction finalized shortly after. It appears the Dinara’s software and user-interface is unaffected by the recent Google buyout and will likely sport a Motoblur flavor.

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Judge orders Oracle to pay Google’s $300K in legal fees

A jury decided this last month that Google did not infringe upon Oracle’s patents, but it has recently come to light that Oracle must pay Google’s steep legal fees accrued during the trial.

Oracle, a database software giant based in Redwood City, Calif., sued Google in August 2010, while alleging the Android operating system violated a number of patents and copyrights within Java, which Oracle acquired through Sun Microsystems. Android currently powers more than 150 million mobile devices. Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., adamantly denied Oracle’s contention, and claimed the Android team was unaware of Sun’s patents before the suit.

Google spokesperson Jim Prosser told Business Insider that Oracle did not succeed in landing a $6 billion settlement from Google, but it did win the responsibility of paying Google’s $300,000 in legal expenses.

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Google’s Trusted Store program comes out of pilot, opens to all US merchants

Google opened its Trusted Store program today to all United States merchants who apply.

The news comes in lieu of Google’s KikScore acquisition from earlier this week. The buyout is rumored to bulk the Trusted Stores program that helps online shoppers find stores with a safe and superior online shopping experience.

KikScore is a similar service that also offers seals for non-online retailers and local businesses. It foremost guarantees online businesses, however, and aggregates information about management, website history, and details on customer service satisfaction. The financial aspects of the acquisition were not revealed.

Google’s Product Manager Tom Fallows took to the Official Google Blog this afternoon to explain how the once-beta Trusted Store Program generated feedback from 50 online merchants and more than 10 million orders since last fall to develop a premium—yet free—shopping service:

Over the last nine months of the pilot, our tests show that participating in this program can help merchants big and small. For example, Wayfair, the largest online-only retailer of home goods and one of the top 50 largest online retailers as ranked by Internet Retailer, increased sales* on its site by 2.3 percent with Google Trusted Stores. And Beau-coup, a specialty online favors and gifts retailer, saw an 8.6 percent increase*. Take a look at our merchant success stories to learn more about how Google Trusted Stores has had a positive impact on website conversion rates and average order sizes for online retailers.

Google explained that when shopping online, the Google Trusted Store badge might appear. Shoppers can view a report card with grades for that merchant when they hover over the badge. The badge is only given to online stores that “deliver a great overall experience.” This helps shoppers to identify trustworthy and reliable online retailers.

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Report: Google to launch its tablet this month alongside magazine subscriptions

Following yesterday’s alleged leaked images of Google’s first Nexus tablet, a report from BusinessInsider today, which cited sources with “knowledge of the company’s plans,” claimed Google is set to announce the device at the end of this month. The report is unclear whether this is the same device as the Asus Google tablet pictured in the leaked images, but the source claims Google will introduce magazine subscription functionality with major publishers alongside the tablet:

Google is expected to announce its first Android tablet at the end of the month, according to a source with knowledge of the company’s plans… The new tablet will also offer magazine subscriptions from some major magazine publishers, our source says.

Previous reports from The Wall Street Journal claimed Google plans to open its own online tablet store to sell Google-branded tablets directly to customers. We are expecting to hear a lot more on June 27 at Google I/O.

Report: Google Nexus press shots leak online [Photos]

Display captures of press shots for the Google Nexus allegedly leaked online today, which show the Asus-manufactured tablet looking like a huge Galaxy Note and Galaxy S III cross.

PhoneArena posted the leaks of the highly anticipated 7-inch tablet. Google is long-rumored to launch the device with the latest version of Android for around $250 to directly compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire and the Barnes & Noble’s Nook.

The images showcase a white front with three dots in the upper-right corner that closely resemble Samsung’s Galaxy S III. Meanwhile, the back sports a two-tone white and black color scheme. The device also carries a bevy of sensors with indications of a video-capable camera on the front and a second camera on the back. The tipster, who leaked the drafts, mentioned a quad-core Tegra 3 as the CPU with the possibility of 1GB of RAM for additional specs.

It is worth noting that the source denied rumors about the Google Nexus featuring Android 5.0 Jelly Bean for the operating system, and instead claimed an updated version of Ice Cream Sandwich, i.e., Android 4.1, would power the tablet. This information corroborates the RightWare benchmark test from last month that suggested a “Google Asus Nexus 7″ would boast Android 4.1 with a quad-core Tegra 3 processor.

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Google demos enhanced 3D maps using aerial imagery

The last demo given at Google’s Maps event today in San Francisco provided us with a look at the next update to 3D maps. Google’s Product Manager of Google Earth Peter Birch explained it is now using “automated technology to extract 3D from aerial images.” In other words, planes equipped with Google hardware fly in tight patterns to record aerial imagery for building 3D models of the city. Google Maps’ Vice President Brian McClendon explained the process took Google many years to perfect, but the result provides more precise data and better 3D maps experience.

Google explained during the Q&A that it has “a fleet of planes with contractors that fly exclusively for Google. And the privacy issues is no different than we’ve had with aerial shots for years.” During the demo, it also showed off a new “Tour Guide” feature for Google Earth that offers recommendations while navigating. Though the demo was given on an iPad, Google announced the new 3D features would come to both Android and iOS in the coming weeks.
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Google exhibits ‘Trekker’ backpack that captures street level data for Street View [Photo]

Google just revealed a backpack-like Street View capture device called “Trekker” that snaps images in areas impossible to navigate by vehicle (above).

“It’s 40 pounds and includes two batteries that’ll last you all day. It’s Android-powered…. We intend to take it to National Parks, the Grand Canyon, castles, etc.,”explained Google’s Engineering Director of Street View Luc Vincent at the “Next Dimension” Google Maps event in San Francisco.

The director further said street level data “could be” useful for users, and then he showed off an original Street View van (below). It is a Chevy Astro and definitely does not compare to newer Street View cars.

It is worth mentioning that Google announced it drove over 5 million unique miles to collect 20 petabytes of imagery for Street View.

More information about today’s event as at the Official Google Blog.

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