At $99, future Nexus Tablets could fill the OLPC role

Taipei-based Digitimes does not have the best track record for predicting product launches; but if its latest rumor is true, Google’s Nexus tablet hardware could soon fill the One Laptop Per Child role. Digitimes claimed today that Asustek and Google are considering releasing two new, refreshed Nexus 7 tablets at new price points. According to the report, an upgraded model would take over the $199 category of the existing 8GB Nexus 7, while the companies would also introduce a $99 entry-level model. The OLPC initiative is still using the XO-1.5 hardware, last updated a couple years ago, but it does plan on producing the new XO-3 tablet at the end of the year. At $99, Nexus 7 could be a viable option going forward. We have not heard anything on these rumors, so we will have to take Digitimes report for what it is until then.

Read more

Google Chairman on Apple patents: ‘there are plenty of prior arts’ and patents shouldn’t be used to block sales

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt is making his way around Asia, and he expanded on remarks made yesterday in Tokyo at the Korean launch of the Nexus 7 today.

Schmidt said Apple “is actually a very good partner. Our two companies are literally talking all the time about everything.” However, he added, “With respect to Apple patents, the best thing we can tell there are plenty of prior arts and I don’t want to go beyond that…”

In relation to Apple’s attempts to block competing Android phones with patents, Schmidt said:

“Literally patent wars prevent choice, prevent innovation and I think that is very bad. We are obviously working through that and trying to make sure we stay on the right side of these issues. So ultimately Google stands for innovation as opposed to patent wars,” …

“I think one of the worst things that happened in the last few years has been the belief that somehow there are so many patents in the mobile phone world, an estimated 200,000 patent that are overlapping and complicated and so forth, that one vendor can stop the sale of another vendor’s phones or devices,” he added.

Schmidt said he would talk to strategic allies on his visit, including Samsung, and he complemented South Korea’s adoption of smartphone technology: Read more

Animated doodle celebrates Google’s 14th birthday [Gallery]

14 Years (before/after)

Google is wishing itself “Happy Birthday” today with an animated doodle of a cake on its homepage.

The animation shows a chocolate cake with 14 candles, and it eventually reveals the company’s colorful name beneath the frosting. Upon clicking the doodle, users simply search for the word “Google”.

Check out more birthday doodles in the gallery below, courtesy of SearchEngineLand.

Read more

Google Play services platform with Google+ APIs and OAuth 2.0 begins to rollout

Google previewed Google Play services at Google I/O, and it finally just began the official launch of its new platform designed to help developers integrate Google products, such as Google+, into their apps. Google explained the platform “consists of a services component that runs on the device and a thin client library that you package with your app.” It also explained the services component is delivered through the Google Play Store, which means “updates to Google Play services are not dependent on carrier or OEM system image updates.” This also means devices running Android 2.2 and up will have access to the latest APIs for Google products through Google Play Store updates “within a few days.”

The rollout will cover all users on Android 2.2+ devices running the latest version of the Google Play store, and will take about a week to complete. Please wait for us to post that the rollout is complete before launching any apps on the store which use Google Play services… In the mean time, go grab the client library from Android SDK manager, check out our updated documentation, and start coding!

Google’s Tim Bray also highlighted in a blog post on the Android Developer’s blog that Google Play services provide OAuth 2.0 access to Android apps using Google APIs with a “good user experience and security”:
Read more

Samsung: Galaxy Note 2 will sell three times faster than predecessor

At a press conference in Seoul today to welcome the release of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 in South Korea, Samsung’s J.K. Shin had some pretty bold predictions for how well the device will sell in the coming months. Bloomberg reported that, following the introduction and record debut weekend of 5 million units for the iPhone 5, Samsung expects the new Galaxy Note 2 to sell three times as many units as the original Note in the first three months. In December 2011, shortly after the introduction of the original Note in September at IFA 2011, Samsung announced it shipped 1 million units. However, at that time, the device had not hit the United States. By the end of February it had moved 2 million Galaxy Notes, and as of August of this year it hit the 10 million mark, reaching its earlier projections for 2012.  For the Galaxy Note II, Samsung expects to reach over 260 carriers in 128 markets and launch in the U.S. with five carriers in mid-November.

We got our first look at the new 5.5-inch device, sporting a redesigned S-Pen and upgraded internals, when it was unveiled at IFA in Berlin last month Read more

Barnes & Noble unveils new 7-inch Nook HD & 9.5-inch HD+ lineup starting at $199

On the heels of Amazon’s release of its new Kindle Fire HD lineup announced earlier this month, Barnes & Noble today launched a refreshed Nook tablet lineup consisting of the new Nook HD, and Nook HD+. Barnes & Noble’s old $249 Nook tablet is being replaced by two new models including a 7-inch Nook HD model starting at $199 and a 9.5-inch Nook HD+ model starting at $269.

NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ offer brilliant displays so customers can enjoy their favorite content and personal photos, not annoying ads as with Amazon’s tablets. And with low prices starting at $199 and $269 respectively, always ad-free NOOK tablets are a better value than Amazon’s, which charges customers an additional $15 for freedom from advertising offers on their tablet home page.

Starting with the Android 4.0-powered Nook HD, Barnes & Noble noted in its press release the device sports the highest resolution display of any 7-inch tablet “at 1440 x 900, with an unprecedented 243 pixels per inch and HD video playback of up to 720p.” Some of the other notable specs in the new device include a dual-core 1.3GHz TI OMAP 4470 processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB ($199) or 16GB ($229) of storage, and a weight of just 315 grams. The HD will be available in Snow and Smoke colors, and it is already up for pre-order at nook.com. Barnes & Noble is promising 10.5-hours continuous reading time and 9 hours of video with the device’s 4,050mAh battery.

Moving on to the 9.5-inch, 1,920-by-1, 280-pixel Nook HD+: the new device includes 1.5GHz dual-core processor, Android 4.0, a 6,000mAh battery good for up to 10 hours of battery life, 1 GB of RAM, and 16GB ($269) or 32GB ($299) of onboard storage. It is also lightweight like the other model at just 515 grams, and it is up for pre-order at nook.com.

Barnes & Noble plans to ship the new devices in October in at least the United Kingdom with both models hitting stores in early November.

The company also explained some changes its made to the interface in its press release (below) in addition to a ton of new content and features such as Nook Video. We also get a look at how the specs compare to Amazon’s Kindle lineup and Apple’s iPads:

Read more

Google Play celebrates 25B downloads/675,000 apps milestone with ’25’ sale

.

Google just announced that it crossed the 25 billion downloaded app milestone and 675,000 apps are now in the Play store. By comparison, Apple has just over 750,000 apps in the App Store, as announced by CEO Tim Cook earlier this month at the iPhone 5 launch, and over 30 billion app downloads as of WWDC in June.

With Google’s larger market share and fast-growing Play Store, it seems like it will soon catch Apple in both of these metrics.

To celebrate the milestones, Google is having a $.25 sale on popular games from big name companies and “25” sales on movies, books and music:

Every day you’ll be able to choose from a collection of apps from some of the world’s top developers including Gameloft, Electronic Arts, Rovio, runtastic, Full Fat and more.  And all for just 25 cents. We’ll also be offering some special collections like 25 movies you must own, 25 banned books, 25 albums that changed the world and our 25 top selling magazines, all at special prices. Visit Google Play a little later today to check them out.

Google also recently announced that it passed the 500 million Android device milestone and it is activating 1.3 million Android devices a day. Some perspective on 25 Billion:

Read more

Google Streetview goes underwater to document the Great Barrier Reef

This is really cool:

Starting today, you can use Google Maps to find a sea turtle swimming among a school of fishfollow a manta ray and experience the reef at sunset—just as I did on my first dive in the Great Barrier Reef last year. You can also find out much more about this reef via the World Wonders Project, a website that brings modern and ancient world heritage sites online.

At Apo Island, a volcanic island and marine reserve in the Philippines, you can see anancient boulder coral, which may be several hundred years old. And in the middle of the Pacific, in Hawaii, you can join snorkelers in Oahu’s Hanauma Bay and drift over the vast coral reef at Maui’s Molokini crater.

Prepare to waste a fair bit of time exploring for turtles, fish, and other creatures on the reefs. Suddenly the 360-degree views of your neighborhood are not so interesting.

Gmail and Google.com down or slow for many users (back up)

Many users are reporting a number of issues in Gmail and Google.com with the services either being slow or temporarily inaccessible. Google’s App Status website indicates a service disruption for only Gmail as of 4:20 p.m. today. Google said it is investigating the reports, and it will provide more information shortly. We will keep you posted when services is back to normal.

Update: Things appear to be back up and Google confirms the outage was brief, affected .35% of users and things are back to normal.

Judge orders arrest of Google executive in Brazil for refusal to remove YouTube videos attacking politician [Video]

A Brazilian court just ordered the arrest of Google’s President of Operations in Brazil due to YouTube videos that allegedly contain “disparaging remarks” about a mayoral candidate.

According to a report by the Associated Press, Judge Flavio Peren ordered Google last week to remove two potentially libelous videos against running politician Alcides Bernal. Google reportedly refused, so Peren issued an arrest warrant for Google executive Fabio Jose Silva Coelho. He also ordered a statewide, 24-hour block of Google and its video sharing website.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company is supposedly appealing the decision, claiming it is not responsible for the content posted on YouTube.

Read more

Google launches alpha browser speed test RobotHornet, asks for community participation

Google is now dabbling in a world beyond JavaScript with its newly unveiled RoboHornet.

The browser benchmark attempts to test and tackle more than just a browser’s JavaScript speed; and as an open-source project at GitHub, Google is inviting others to get involved. CNET first reported the story:

There are plenty of JavaScript speed tests, Google’s new Octane among them, and for good reason: the programming language is used to turn static Web pages into interactive Web apps. But there’s more to fast browsing, and Google hopes others will get involved to flesh out RoboHornet with a full suite of tests.

RoboHornet includes all aspects of a browser’s performance and other important matters for web developers, such as layout performance and localStorage, but it is still in an early alpha state.

“[…] That’s where you come in,” announced RoboHornet leader Alex Komoroske in a Google+ post. “It’s up to you and to propose and vote for performance issues you care about, helping shape the future of the benchmark and effectively defining the areas that browser vendors will invest in making run faster.”

Google engineer Paul Irish further detailed on his blog how RoboHornet plans to test many browser facets.

“These days, our performance bottlenecks are oftentimes DOM, <canvas> API methods, SVG. Those are our priorities,” explained Irish. “So we wanted to solve that with RoboHornet.”

Read more

Barnes & Noble announces Nook Video with HBO, Warner, Disney and more content partnerships

Barnes & Noble just unveiled Nook Video; a digital service touting content deals with major studios like HBO, Sony, Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, and Viacom.

The Android-powered eReader hopes to bulk its catalog of movies, classic films, and original TV show offerings with the new service and subsequent partnerships. A few of the more notable titles coming to Nook Video include: Disney-Pixar’s “Brave” and “Toy Story 3,”Marvel’s “The Avengers,” “21 Jump Street,” “Awkward,” “The Artist,” “Breaking Bad,” “Dora the Explorer”, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “Spartacus,” “Magic City,” “The Walking Dead,” “True Blood,” “Game of Thrones,” “Harry Potter movies,” “The Dark Knight,” “The Hangover,” and etc.

Nook Video arrives in the United States this fall, with a “holiday” release for the United Kingdom, and its premiere content will be available to non-Barnes & Noble devices via upcoming Nook Video apps. The complimentary apps will further allow users to switch video playback between connected devices.

Get the full press release below.

Read more