Google search on mobile devices adds handwriting option

Google just announced it is rolling out the ability to handwrite using your finger on mobile devices for search queries. The new feature, which Google warns is still in beta, works on most smartphones and tablets and is activated from within mobile search settings. After the feature has been enabled, a small “g” icon on Google search pages allows you to enable the handwriting mode, and disable to resume normal touchscreen functionality. You’ll also be provided with the necessary “Space” and backspace buttons when the mode is activated.

It’s not always easy to use the keyboard on your phone or tablet, especially when you’re on the go. Instead, try Handwrite (beta) on Google.com to write your search terms with your finger rather than typing the words on the keyboard. As you write, your handwritten text converts into words in the search box.

Enable the feature

  1. Turn the feature on or off in your search settings. Touch Settings at the bottom of the Google homepage or a search results page, or visit google.com/preferences.
  2. Go to the Handwrite section, select Enable to turn on the feature, and then touch Save.

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Google unveils Gigabit Google Fiber Internet and TV service starting at $120/month [Gallery]

Google is on stage now in Kansas for the launch of its Gigabit Google Fiber Internet and TV service. Interested users can sign up today at Google.com/fiber for a $10 pre-registration fee. Google will not actually deploy the service until the majority of people from designated “fiberhoods” in Kansas pre-register for the service. Fiberhoods are made of about 800 residents, but Google said announcements about the service for businesses would be made at a later time. The fiberhoods that show the highest level of interest by September will get the service first.

Google spent a lot of time demoing the “100 times faster” Internet service, but the majority of the demo was for the new Fiber TV service. Google will offer the Internet and TV service as a $120 per month package. It will also wave the $300 installation fee for early customers, and it will offer a number of other options, including just Gigabit Internet for $70 monthly (which also includes 1TB Google Drive, no data caps, and a one-year contract), and an interesting option for free Internet at $0 per month for only the $300 construction fee (with the option to upgrade to the gigabit service after a year).

The service provides customers with a free Nexus 7 tablet, and Google will ship a Fiber TV app for iOS and Android (pictured in the gallery above). Google noted one TV package would be offered, providing a full channel TV lineup and optional premium movie channels. The service will give access to YouTube, DVR, on-demand libraries, and Netflix. The full list of channels is available at Google Fiber’s Plans & Pricing page.

Other than demoing the user interface for the Fiber TV service, Google also showed off the hardware that will make the Fiber service possible, such as: a network box consisting of Gigabit routing, high performance Wi-Fi, a Gigabit firewall, simple network management functionality, a storage box capable of recording up to eight shows at once for 500 hours of content in HD with 2 TB of storage, and a TV box that connects the other two boxes and turns your TV into a Wi-Fi hotspot. The Nexus 7 is included as the TV service’s remote, but Google noted the Fiber apps would receive the ability to stream content in the future.

Google explained the introduction of the new service in detail on the official Google blog:
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Report: Samsung says removal of Google’s universal search on UK Galaxy S III was ‘inadvertent’

The blogosphere recently swelled with speculation as to why Samsung removed Google’s universal search function from its premiere Galaxy SIII smartphone, but a new report today revealed the ousting was simply “inadvertent.”

AndroidCentral first revealed the problem: 

  • There’s a new over-the-air update rolling out for the international Samsung Galaxy S III (aka Galaxy S3 GT-i9300) this evening. The OTA message identifies it as a “stability update,” but what it also does is remove local (on-device) search functionality in the phone’s built-in Google Search app. The new version — XXBLG6 — is a relatively recent build, having been cooked just a few days ago on Jul. 20. A new baseband version, XXLG6, is also included, but we haven’t noticed any other changes thus far.
  • Following legal action by Apple, which temporarily resulted in the Galaxy Nexus being banned in the U.S., Samsung has taken to pre-emptively disabling the ability to search within on-device data (like contacts and applications) on some U.S. Galaxy S3’s. However, the decision to kill local search on the unlocked international model — which isn’t sold in the U.S. — is a little perplexing, not least because Apple has yet to challenge Sammy over local search in the EU or UK, where the GT-i9300 is sold.

Samsung just confirmed to TechRadar, however, that the removal of search functionality on the U.K. version of the Galaxy S III had nothing to do with a legal action by Apple. The mysterious occurrence, which stopped the ability to search for files, contacts, and apps through the built-in Google Search widget, was apparently unintentional.

According to Samsung:

“The most recent software upgrade for the Galaxy S III in the UK included the inadvertent removal of the universal search function. Samsung will provide the correct software upgrade within the next few days.”

A new update will roll out over the next few days to fix the problem.

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Google Talk is down for most users (updated – back up)

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Google is aware of the problem that is causing Google Talk to be down for most people, including me. The problem appeared early this morning, and Google updated the downtime status twice on the Apps dashboard over the past hour and change.

We’re aware of a problem with Google Talk affecting a majority of users. The affected users are able to access Google Talk, but are seeing error messages and/or other unexpected behavior. We will provide an update by 7/26/12 7:50 AM detailing when we expect to resolve the problem. Please note that this resolution time is an estimate and may change.

We will update, hopefully soon, when things improve.

Update: 9:15 ET. We are able to see our contact list and some IMs are going thru.  However still not back to normal.

Update: 10:50ET Google updates that service to some users has been restored but not all (including me).

Update: Noon Google says it is back up:

7/26/12 11:25 AM
The problem with Google Talk should be resolved. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support. Please rest assured that system reliability is a top priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better. If you are still experiencing an issue, please contact us via the Google Help Center.

Vint Cerf would fertilize his tomatoes with the WSJ’s ‘myth’ that gov didn’t create the internet

Following an article on The Wall Street Journal from columnist Gordon Crovitz, titled “Who Really Invented the Internet?“, Vint Cerf, “father of the internet” and Google’s chief internet evangelist, is weighing in on Crovtz’ assertion that the government’s hand in creating the Internet is an “urban legend.” In an email interview with CNET, the man behind the evolution of TCP/IP networking protocols disagreed with Crovitz and talked about his involvement in the development of the Web:

In his Wall Street Journal column, Gordon Crovitz writes that the federal government’s involvement in the creation of the Internet was modest. Does that jibe with your recollection?

Vint Cerf: No. The United States government via ARPA started the project. (Bob Kahn initiated the Internetting project when he joined ARPA in late 1972. He had been principal architect of the ARPANET IMP (packet switch) while at BBN.

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Google sets differences aside to form ‘Internet Association’ lobbying group with Facebook, Amazon, eBay

The world must be ending—because Google, Facebook, Amazon, and eBay just united for a cause.

The Web’s leading giants apparently formed an “Internet Association” to lobby on Capitol Hill. The Washington Post first detailed the alliance, which former Congressional guru Michael Beckerman leads, while it further noted a full list of parties is not yet known. An anonymous source told the publication, however, that the above four companies are the most notable members.

Beckerman most recently served as deputy staff director to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, and he boasts more than 12 years in Washington under his belt.

“The Internet must have a voice in Washington,” explained Beckerman in a press release (PDF). The Internet Association, which officially launches in September, aims to act as the Web’s executive voice.

Google is already copiously betted in various lobbying issues. 9to5Google even reported earlier this week that the folks in Mountain View spent over $5 million lobbying in Q2 2012.

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YouTube Creator Space opens in London to spur premium content [Video]

Google just unveiled its “YouTube Creator Space” in London.

The high-tech studio will essentially allow YouTubers to create premium content for Google’s video-sharing platform. They will have access to technical equipment, and other YouTube content producers, which will undoubtedly encourage quality videos based on fresh, collaborative ideas.

“We’re delighted to announce that in the next few weeks we’ll be opening the doors to our new creator space, housed in the offices of Google London’s Soho office,” announced the company on its YouTube Creator Hub channel.

According to the above video’s description:

Our partners from all over Europe, Middle East and Africa will be able to book time in the space to create and collaborate with other creators, learn new techniques, as well as gaining access to state-of-the-art audio visual equipment, to help them generate great new content for their channels. The creator space is complete with the latest equipment such as DSLRs and cinema cameras, two studios including a green screen and fully staffed editing suites.

The YouTube Next Lab, which is a team “focused on accelerating the growth and development of channels and creators on YouTube,” will oversee the London studio.

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Google: Motorola patents and technology worth $5.5B of $12.4B acquisition

A new report from The Wall Street Journal today, citing an SEC filing, noted Google has put an exact value on the patents acquired in its purchase of Motorola Mobility. In the filing, Google claimed “patents and developed technology” acquired in the deal were valued at $5.5 billion—less than half of the $12.4 billion Google paid for the company.

Google also broke down the rest of the purchase price in the SEC filing:
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Report: Google draws up antitrust settlement outline with EU to dodge legal battle

Google and the European Commission consented to the “outlines of a settlement” today, according to The Financial Times (via SearchEngineLand), which, if inked, would spare the search engine from official antitrust charges.

Europe’s premier competition watchdog has long accused the Mountain View, Calif.-based Company of abusing its dominance to suppress opponents in the market. Google previously said it would make company-wide changes to avoid a legal battle and expensive fines, and it seems the most recent outcome of those discussions is a new settlement draft of which the details are currently unknown. The rough deal reportedly also extends to a contentious matter that surfaced late in the talks—mobile search.

Joaquin Almunia, the European Union’s vice president of the European commission responsible for competition, sent a letter to Google Executive Chairperson Eric Schmidt in May. The letter detailed the antitrust investigation into Google’s search practices, and it offered the search engine a chance to remedy its “abuses” by settling.

“I have just sent a letter to Eric Schmidt setting out these four points. In this letter, I offer Google the possibility to come up in a matter of weeks with first proposals of remedies to address each of these points,” said Alumnia.

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German court slaps EU ban on Samsung’s 7.7-inch Tab but somehow lets the 10-incher slide

A few months before Apple is set to release a 7.85-inch tablet of its own, it convinced a German court to ban Samsung’s similar-sized, year-old offering based on the look and feel of the 10-inch iPad. The ban would extend to the entire 27-member states of the European Union should it hold. Strangely, the same court decided that an iPad-sized 10.1N variety of the Galaxy Tab, which was just a 10.1 with a superficial makeover, should not be banned.

Samsung was both happy…

“Samsung welcomes the court’s ruling which confirms our position that the GALAXY Tab 10.1N does not infringe Apple’s intellectual property and does not infringe laws against unfair competition. Should Apple continue to make legal claims based on such a generic design patent, design innovation and progress in the industry could be restricted.”

and sad…

“Samsung is disappointed with the court’s ruling. We will continue to take all available measures, including legal action, to protect our intellectual property rights and defend against Apple’s claims to ensure our products remain available to consumers throughout the European Union.”

on the news.

Google celebrates Landsat’s 40th birthday, makes available timelapse videos of the Earth’s surface

Google just took to its official Lat Long blog to wish Landsat a “Happy 40th Birthday” and make its surface imagery live for the entire world to enjoy.

The revered satellite program essentially collects continuous images of the Earth to help smart folks, like scientists and researchers, make knowledgeable decisions on the economy and environment. Google Earth Engine has made Landsat’s data available to such experts anywhere in the world, but now it wants to give the public access.

Googler Eric Nguyen explained:

  • We’re working with the USGS and Carnegie Mellon University, to make parts of this enormous collection of imagery available to the public in timelapse videos of the Earth’s surface. With them you can travel through time, from 1999-2011, to see the transformation of our planet. Whether it’s deforestation in the Amazon, urban growth in Las Vegas or the difference in snow coverage between the seasons.
  • […] In 2008, the USGS opened access to the entire Landsat archive for free. Google Earth Engine makes it possible for this data to be accessed and used by scientists and others no matter where they are in the world.

A highlighted timelapse video is below:

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