Google’s Daniel Graf discusses Google Maps for iOS (Video)

Engadget sat with Daniel Graf recently, who is working on Mobile Maps at Google but originally joined the company in 2011 in an entrepreneurial role at Mobile Apps Lab, and got the lowdown on the Android and iOS versions of the mapping app.

In regards to the iOS counterpart that launched in December, according to Engadget, Graf said, “It has been an interesting project, because we got the opportunity to start from scratch. [The Android version] is actually seven years of history, seven years of product, [...] seven years of user experience. On iOS, we didn’t have those seven years so that gave us a chance to take a step back and say. ‘Hey, what would be the next-generation mobile mapping experience?’”

He also talked about the iOS app’s user experience: “When Larry came on board as CEO two years ago, he talked about beautiful experiences and we had very functional and very useful experiences and in term of beauty I think there was work to do. Now two years later if you actually use our product on desktop, on Android, on iOS there’s a theme there … there’s a design language there, and I would say actually they’re beautiful.”

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T-Mobile Nexus 4 now available at Best Buy

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If for some reason you had your hopes up high for a Nexus 4 on contract, today is your lucky day. Best Buy has started offering the hot-selling phone on a two-year contract with T-Mobile for $199.99. The device retails unlocked at $299.99 for 8GB or $349.99 for 16GB from the Google Play store, and it comes with HSPA+ 4G (no LTE) just like the T-Mobile version. It’s no surprise that you’ll save tons of money in the long run when buying the device from the Play store outright for $299.99 without a contract. However, if you’d like to save money up front, signing a two-year contract for the device isn’t a bad choice either. The device has a 3- to 5-day wait before it starts shipping, while the Play store has both models of the phone in a “Sold Out” status. If you’re dying to get your hands on this phone, and don’t mind signing a contract, head on over to the source link to get your hands on one.

Update: Wirefly has the same setup for $149. It is still not better than getting one off contract, though.

SourceBest Buy

HP’s leaked spec sheet shows off 14-inch Chromebook

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HP plans to enter the Chromebook space, according to a leaked spec sheet available on the company’s website.

The newly discovered PDF listing has the lowdown on a yet-to-be-unveiled Pavilion Chromebook. The noteworthy specs include a 14-inch, 1,366-by-768-pixel display, as well as a 1.1GHz Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB solid-state drive.

HP’s first Chromebook notably sports a display that is—although the same in terms of resolution— much larger than the current 11.6-inch models, as The Verge also noted. The first Chromebooks, made by Acer and Samsung, launched at Google I/O in May 2011 and began shipping a month later, with Lenovo subsequently entering the market in early 2013.

Google’s Chrome operating system, known for its Web-based applications, powers the Chromebook. Aside from the low-cost laptop models, various desktop versions, dubbed “Chromeboxes,” also exist.

9to5Google contacted HP to gather more details, such as a confirmation, price, and availability, on the Pavilion Chromebook, and we’ll update when more information is available.

UPDATE: HP has declined to comment on the leaked spec sheet. The actual PDF, however, designated Feb. 17 as an embargo date for advertisements. So, more details may emerge in a couple of weeks.

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Get more images in the gallery below.

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Google introduces Transparency Report FAQ section to show how it handles requests for user data

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Google outlined the growing request for users’ data in its latest Transparency Report, and now the company has detailed just how it handles such requests when they start to trickle in.

The Internet Giant chiefly advocates for legislation, such as the U.S. Electronic Communications Privacy Act, that safeguards personal data online. When a government agency asks for users’ personal information, including Gmail messages, documents, photos, and YouTube videos, etc., Google makes sure the request is in writing, officially signed, and complies with the law.

Google also demands a search warrant before handing over data, verifies that requests are not too broad in scope, and then contacts its users about requests when not legally prohibited. Last, but not least, according to the official Google blog, Google works “hard to provide you with information” about government requests:

“Today, for example, we’ve added a new section to our Transparency Report that answers many questions you might have. And last week we released data showing that government requests continue to rise, along with additional details on the U.S. legal processes—such as subpoenas, court orders and warrants—that government use to compel us to provide this information.”

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Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Note 8.0 spotted again with S Pen

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Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Note 8.0 was spotted in the wild earlier this week, and now French blog Frandroid has additional images of the phablet with an S Pen.

The website (Google translated) posted the images on Friday, agreed with recent rumors that claimed the 8-inch device would launch next month at Mobile World Congress, and said it should sport a Super Clear 8-inch LCD at 1,280-by-800 pixels and run Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

Additional specs—also rumored in other reports—include: 2GB of RAM, 16- or 32 GB of internal memory, MicroSD card reader, 5-megapixel camera sensor, 1.3-megapixel front camera, Wi-Fi 802.11, Bluetooth 4.0, and USB 2.0 connectivity, and a 4600 mAh battery. It will also purportedly feature a 211.3-by- 136.3-by-7.95-mm dimension and 330-gram weight.

The stylus-equipped device notably looks like a huge Galaxy S III smartphone and includes the company’s physical home button. Check out another image below.

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Samsung debuts Jelly Bean-powered Galaxy Xcover 2 for the outdoorsy type

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Samsung just unveiled a rugged smartphone for the outdoorsy type, dubbed the “Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2″.

The company described it as “the ideal smartphone for active explorers who are enjoying outdoor lifestyles and seeking a durable mobile device with essential smartphone capabilities,” because it is able to endure the most extreme outdoor conditions.

The Android smartphone is notably dust and sand proof, and it is even water-resistant up to one-meter deep for 30 minutes. The battery cover lock provides extra protection, as well. The Xcover 2 also features pre-downloaded Google map data, an enhanced GPS + GLONASS that shortens satellite signal detection roughly 20 percent for more precise location tracking, and a Cardio Trainer Pro workout app that helps people meet fitness goals by creating a tailored training program.

On the spec side, the Galaxy Xcover 2 sports a 4-inch WVGA display, 1 GHz dual-core processor, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Samsung TouchWiz, 5-megapixel auto focus camera with LED flash, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, 4GB user memory, 1GB RAM, microSD up to 32GB, and a Li-ion 1,700mAh battery. The dimensions equal 130.5-by-67.7-by-12-mm, with a 148.5 g weight.

The official press release did not offer details about a launch date or pricing, but Swedish website CDON already has the Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 on pre-order for 2,690 Swedish krona (or $415 USD) with an estimated shipping date set for Feb. 21.

Get more details in the press release below.

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