Google Maps for Android update adds over 1M public transit schedules, revamped UI [Photos]

Google — Left: Mobile map with all modes of public transit shown; Right: Transit Lines layer in Subway mode

Google Maps now offers schedules for over 1 million public transportation stops in nearly 500 cities worldwide, while its Android counterpart updated today to make the abundance of new transit data more convenient.

Christopher Van Der Westhuizen, a Google Maps software engineer, announced version 6.10 of the Google Maps for Android app on the Official Google Blog:

We’ve made some changes to the Transit Lines layer, so that you can select a specific mode of public transportation (train, bus, tram or subway) to display on the mobile map, hiding the other modes. This is helpful in areas where there is a tight concentration of several types of public transit.

Google offers a list of supported cities at its Transit page.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 lands August 16, starting at $499 for 16GB [Video]

Samsung just revealed pricing and availability for the Galaxy Note 10.1 at its “Meet The New Way” event live in New York City.

The 10-inch tablet goes on sale Aug. 16, with the price tag starting at $499 for the 16GB model and $549 for 32GB. The hefty cost includes the S-Pen stylus, a 1280-by-800 TFT display, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with an expected Jelly Bean upgrade, a 1.4 GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with an LED flash and autofocus, and a 1.9-megapixel front-facing camera. Oh, and the tablet supports 64GB memory cards, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0.

A few of the primary features from the Galaxy S III will also ship including video pop-up play and preloaded apps like Netflix and Dropbox.

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Major US retailers team to combat Google Wallet with mobile payments network and new app

The Wall Street Journal just revealed a group of major U.S. retailers, dubbing themselves as the “Merchant Customer Exchange,” look to unveil a mobile payments network and app today that will directly rival Google Wallet and similar services.

Google Wallet Logo

The mobile payments arena is clouded with regulators, competitors, tech, and now a network that each aim to profit on the looming cash cow—even though it has yet to take root due to all the interference. Just last week, for instance, Electronic Transactions Association CEO Jason Oxman announced the newly formed Mobile Payments Committee that boasts representation from the four leading U.S. carriers.

The Merchant Customer Exchange, however, specifically wants to add a universal app to the ever-growing pile that will give Google Wallet, as well as carrier-led ISIS and mobile payments companies like PayPal and Square, a run for its money.

The Wall Street Journal first detailed the group’s origin in March. The specifics were brief—over a dozen retailers teaming to get a piece of the pie— but more information is now available. Walmart, Target, 7-11, Sunoco, Best Buy, CVS, Lowe’s, Sears, Royal Dutch Shell, Publix, etc., are just a few of the retailers, which eye combined sales of roughly $1 trillion annually, that want to pipe “deals” to their customers while investing in the mobile payments landscape.

It is worth mentioning that retailers can crop consumer data through the MCX app and network, which in turn could help them to better hone and target ads, but the app will also enable devices to “tap and pay” for purchases via a reader in stores.

“As merchants, no one understands our customers’ shopping and payment experience better than we do, and we’re confident that together we can develop a technology solution that makes that experience more engaging, convenient and efficient,” said Best Buy President of Financial Services Mark Williams in a statement.

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RealPlayer launches on Android as single hub for all of your media

Today, RealNetworks has launched a new RealPlayer app for Android that it considers a single hub for all of an Android user’s media.

The RealPlayer app for Android offers an easier way to enjoy music, videos and photos on the go. It simplifies the experience by letting you get all your entertainment with just one click – eliminating the need for multiple players and apps to browse your music; play your videos; get your photos; and connect and share on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

RealNetworks says that the beta version of the app already reached 11.2 million users.

The company provides a list of some of the key features:

  • Easily Organize & Play Music – Use an intuitive interface, metadata discovery, widgets and voice-controlled search.
  • Listen to Music Your Way – You are the DJ with an equalizer, playlist editor, cross fade and personalized radio.
  • Share Your Media – Show off your media on Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Picasa.

The free RealPlayer app is available for free via the Google Play store.

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YouTube and Sony team up for custom PS3 YouTube app, rolls out in North America today

YouTube has announced that it and Sony have partnered for a great, custom YouTube experience on the Playstation 3 game console. YouTube was previously available on PS3 through the product’s web browser, but this is a custom app that provides an entirely new way to browse YouTube’s content library.

The interface, optimized for television monitors, is controlled by the PlayStation 3’s gaming remote. You can also utilitize your smartphone as a remote. Through the smartphone pairing, there is even Apple/iOS-AirPlay like functionality for sending a YouTube video from the smartphone to your PS3 and the big screen.

An optimal search interface and video viewing by subscriptions are also present features in the app.

YouTube for PS3 is available for free under “My Channels” in the PlayStation store. It begins rolling out today in North America. YouTube does not provide a time table for other regions.

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Teens flock to YouTube for music consumption over iTunes and other mediums

The majority of American teens prefer YouTube to iTunes, radio, online radio, and CDs when it comes to finding and listening to music.

Approximately two-thirds of 18-and-younger U.S. teenagers, according to a “Music 360″ survey from research firm Nielsen (via The Wall Street Journal), claimed they sidestepped other music-listening mediums for Google’s video-sharing platform.

YouTube snagged 64 percent of 13-to-17 year olds, while radio came in second at 56 percent. iTunes held 54 percent, with CDs and Pandora rounding the top five at 50- and- 35 percent respectively.

The Wall Street Journal noted young folks regard YouTube as a “de facto free music service,” but adults do not take full advantage of the site’s complimentary content. The survey showed 67 percent of them actually preferred radio for music consumption, but another 61 percent still gave CDs a whirl. Meanwhile, YouTube stole 44 percent, Pandora landed the No. 4 spot at 32 percent, and iTunes sat at fifth with 29 percent.

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Going against Android, RIM says it will license upcoming BlackBerry 10 to manufactures

Image from CrackBerry

In the current smartphone race, which basically comes down to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, the key differentiator is that one OS is licensed to several manufactures (Android), and the other runs solely on the OS creator’s optimized handsets (iOS). With RIM publicly struggling as a company, with a clear need for a new direction, the company says it will take the Google OS route and license its upcoming BlackBerry 10 software to other handset makers.

Bloomberg has the quote from recently appointed RIM CEO Thorsten Heins:

QNX is already licensed across the automotive sector — we could do that with BB10 if we chose to,” Heins, who has begun to carry a BB10 phone for his own use, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York. “The platform can be licensed.

RIM’s current smartphone lineup (and in the past) has closely mirrored Apple’s approach. RIM has built and optimized its own software and hardware to work in tandem. RIM’s upcoming BlackBerry 10 mobile device operating system is a major departure from the company’s current mobile operating system. It is completely re-written and redesigned for touch and new features like advanced multitasking.

BlackBerry 10 will begin making its way onto smartphones in 2013.

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Google+ opens custom URLs to select +profiles

Google+ started rolling out custom URLs today.

Well…do not get too excited. Only specific people and pages can customize their Google+ URLs.

“We’re not quite ready for everyone to start claiming their own custom URLs, we plan to expand the availability over time, so stay tuned,” explained Google in a Google+ post.

Saurabh Sharma first detailed the news on Google+, where the Googler defined a custom URL as a “short, easy to remember web address that links directly to your profile or page on Google+.”

As Sharma also noted, +Britney Spears+Ubisoft+Delta, and +Toyota are just a few of the profiles that have already modified their Google+ URLs.

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Google acquiring travel brand Frommer’s for unknown amount

Google is set to acquire travel brand Frommer’s, which is behind an array of travel guides across the globe, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. The acquisition is said to close shortly.

With its acquisition of Frommer’s, which was founded in 1957, Google could add the service’s guidebooks to a number of its current offering to boost business and landmark descriptions. Frommer’s currently has over 350 printed guidebooks and over 3,500 destinations on its website. It is not clear if Google will continue the printing side of Frommer’s.

Google acquired Zagat in 2011 for a similar purpose. Zagat’s user reviews and descriptions were added to Google+ Local in May for more contextual information when users look at local businesses. Frommer’s treasure trove of information may have a similar fate.

Perhaps the biggest integration of Frommer’s will be in Google Now. It was recently introduced as a part of Jelly Bean and serves users with almost instant information activated by voice. With information from Frommer’s, Google could serve up global travel reviews a little better.

Google’s foray into Airline/Travel purchasing will also be helped greatly by Frommer’s guidebooks on the back of last year’s ITA purchase.

We will be on the look out for official announcement from Frommer’s and Google. Update below: 

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RadioShack to act as a Cricket Wireless MVNO, offer the HTC One V and Alcatel Authority prepaid

It appears that RadioShack is going to become a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) for Cricket in the U.S. including its Muve music service. Our tipster, Kyle T, just sent some information on the HTC One V that will be carried as a pre-paid phone at RadioShack on “RadioShack Mobile”.

Look for other phones to follow soon like the Alcatel Authority (pictured above). The full One V description from RadioShack is below:

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Google responds to influx of copyright removal notices by updating search

Google experienced more copyright removal notices for URLs in the last month than it did for all of 2009.

The search engine processed more than 4.3 million URL removal requests in the last 30 days, and it plans to redirect this data as a signal for search rankings. The bevy of infringing Web content spurred Google to take into account valid copyright removal notices for websites to verify its search algorithms yield the highest quality results.

Google elaborated on its Inside Search blog

  • Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results. This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily—whether it’s a song previewed on NPR’s music website, a TV show on Hulu or new music streamed fromSpotify.

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Google launches clever Google Ads campaign with animated commercials in Brazil (Videos)

Google is using witty animation to enlighten folks in Brazil about the conditions of online advertising and how its service helps streamline those operations.

The Internet giant recently hosted five animated videos on YouTube as part of a Brazil-based campaign for Google Ads products. According to TheNextWeb (via Brainstorm9), agencies Pepper Melon and Ño Empire co-created the farcical advertisements that focus on brand awareness, audience engagement, efficient technology use, target selection, and new product launches.

The commercials are in Brazilian Portuguese with English subtitles, check ‘em out:

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