People power: Gmail goes live in Iran after one-week block

Theocratic countries have blocked Google’s products left and right, but a new report from Reuters today indicated Iran is lifting its one-week-old block on Gmail due to a flurry of official complaints.

According to Reuters:

Iranian authorities have reopened access to Google Inc’s email service a week after blocking it, a government official and Iranians said on Monday.

Iran maintains one of the world’s largest Internet filters, blocking access to tens of thousands of websites on the grounds that they are criminal or immoral, but the block on Gmail had even prompted complaints in parliament.

Gmail reportedly went live again for Iranians Sunday night, after an official announced on Sept. 23 that Iran would block YouTube throughout the country “until further notice.” Committee Member Mohammad Reza Aghamiri told the Mehr news agency that Gmail’s ban was an ” unintended consequence” of trying to block YouTube. Various local news agencies attributed the banning of YouTube to a controversial anti-Islam film posted on Google’s video-sharing platform.

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Report: Google acquires Ukrainian facial recognition company Viewdle

According to a report from Forbes (via TNW), Google just closed a deal last week to acquire Ukrainian augmented reality and facial recognition startup Viewdle. The exact amount Google paid for the company is unclear, but Forbes’ sources said it was somewhere in the neighborhood of the $30 million to $45 million. That puts the purchase price in between the $30 million figure the company expected to get and the amount Google paid for similar companies PittPatt ($38 million) and NevenVision ($45 million).

Viewdle has its SocialCamera Android app, both iOS and Android versions of its face recognition SDK, and several patents related to face detection and augmented reality applications. The translation of the report seems to indicate Motorola had previously been an anonymous bidder interested in purchasing the company:

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YouTube to live stream Presidential and Vice Presidential debates, also adds 22 AOL-curated channels

YouTube is continuing its dominance in the online video space today by announcing plans to live stream the 2012 Presidential and Vice Presidential debates and launch AOL’s entire original video content library through 22 curated channels.

Woah. Google launched the YouTube Elections Hub in August as a complete video resource for all-things political until the U.S. Election Day on Nov. 6. The Hub features videos from politicians, parties, and well-known media, as well as shared coverage with live and on-demand content from ABC News, Al Jazeera English, BuzzFeed, Larry King, The New York Times, Phil DeFranco, Univision, and the Wall Street Journal.

Now, according to the official YouTube blog, Google announced the Hub would broadcast the four general election debates starting Oct. 3 at 9 p.m. EST:

Throughout the month of October, President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney will go head-to-head in a series of highly-anticipated general election debates. This year, for the first time, you can watch the debates live and in full on the YouTube Elections Hub, via our partners at ABC News, who will be live streaming all four debates on the ABC News YouTube channel. No matter where you are in the world or how you’ll be accessing the internet, you’ll be able to watch the most important events of the 2012 election on YouTube.

YouTube will also post highlight clips at YouTube.com/politics after the debate for the busy folks unable to tune-in live.

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Google kicks off Advertising Week 2012 sessions

As part of Advertising Week running from October 1-5 in New York, Google is hosting more than 20 sessions with topics ranging from The Mobile Playbook, to YouTube seminars, to a master class in Google Analytics. Over on the company’s Think with Google website, Google highlighted the sessions, some of which take place at conferences and trade shows outside of Advertising Week. Today Google has a number of sessions ending with a keynote by Vice President of Sales Jim Lecinski 4:00pm. Advertising Week has a live stream on its website of the events, and we’ll be bringing you anything interesting as it goes down.
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AT&T bulks 4G LTE roster with James Bond’s Sony Xperia TL

AT&T started October with a bang by confirming plans to offer its version of the IFA 2012-unveiled Sony Xperia T, the Sony Xperia TL.

The black Xperia TL features a 4.55-inch 720p display, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 13-megapixel camera, 1080p HD video recording, and one-touch enabled NFC. AT&T further noted support includes 4G LTE connectivity, and the smartphone would launch with Android 4.0.4 preloaded. An update to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean will hit soon after. Aside from a brief notice about the upcoming James Bond “Skyfall” flick apparently slated to feature the Xperia TL, there are no additional details available.

Oh, and 9to5Google asked reps if NFC capability hints that Google Wallet is on board. We will update with more information if confirmed.

Check out the full press release below.

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Google’s Market cap passes Microsoft for the first time in history, closes $19B in 10 months

Google’s Market cap passed Microsoft this morning for the first time, as first noted by a Bloomberg news tweet.

Google trailed Microsoft by $19 billion earlier this year. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company closed the Market cap gap in just 10 months, however, forcing the once-goliath Microsoft to now walk in the footpaths of Google and Apple as the world’s most valuable tech companies.

Check out the fight in realtime: 

Microsoft currently boasts a $3 billion lead over Google, according to Business Insider, which cited Yahoo Finance, but their points are bound to sway if Google continues to swell.

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AT&T announces Galaxy Note II, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, Galaxy Express, & Galaxy Rugby Pro

AT&T just sent out a press release announcing the addition of four new devices including three Samsung smartphones and one tablet. Now added to the AT&T LTE Android lineup: the new Galaxy Note II, which we recently got hands-on time with when it unveiled in Berlin; the 4-inch waterproof Galaxy Rugby Pro; the 4.5-inch Galaxy Express; and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1-inch tablet.

Samsung did not provide exact pricing and release dates for any of the devices, but it said all-new models would become available “in the coming months.” Go below for specs on each device from the AT&T press release:

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Google Maps refreshes high resolution aerial & satellite imagery, adds 45° imagery for 51 cities

Only moments after Apple CEO Tim Cook issued an open letter to iOS customers apologizing for the Maps controversy and recommending the Google Maps web app, Google is now highlighting some improvements it made to high-resolution imagery in its Maps and Earth apps.

New 45-degree imagery for 51 cities and 37 locations in the United States are included in the update, as well as 14 abroad spots like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Google is also refreshing high-resolution aerial and satellite imagery for 112 countries and 17 cities in both Google Maps and Earth.The refresh includes shots of the pentagon-shaped Citadel of Lille in France and the Texas State Capitol in Austin.

A full list of locations in the updates is below:

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Google rolls out YouTube movie trailers in search results

After adding movie listings to search results in its Android apps and elsewhere, Google announced today it is now including movie trailers next to the listings. They will play directly on the results page, and next to showtimes is a “Trailer” button. Clicking the button will pop open the trailer in a YouTube video without navigating off the page. To search for movie listings on Google, type your city or town followed by “showtimes”, e.g., NYC showtimes.

Finding the perfect movie for your next excursion to the theater just got easier, thanks to an improvement that enables you to watch trailers directly from the search results page. For example, if you want to check out all of the movies available in your area, you can search [showtimes nyc] on google.com in English, click the Trailer button next to a listed movie, and the official trailer on YouTube will pop up. If that movie’s not your cup of tea, you can click the X in the right-hand corner and watch the other trailers available. The Trailer button is also available if you’re searching for a specific movie—say, [finding nemo 3d].

Google merges Trends with Insights for Search to create ‘single powerful tool’

Google just combined Trends and Insights for Search into one product.

According to Google Support:

We have launched a new version of Google Trends, bringing the great functionality of both Google Insights and Google Trends into one. Following the release of the revamped of hot trends and the special olympics addition, this release should make it even easier for you to tell stories about search and explore what people are interested in around the world.

As these product are now one, Insights for Search is being deprecated. We are working hard to make sure that any URLs you might have stored for Insights/Trends will be gracefully handled by the new united site.

Google Trends previously detailed how often a particular term is Google searched relative to the total volume of searches conducted across the world; where as Google Insights for Search provided, well, insights into those search terms. Unlike Trends, Insights for Search also provided a visual graph.

Now, both products have been folded and redesigned into a fancy new tool:

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Google adds CardDAV protocol for syncing Google contacts on iOS & other devices

Today, Google announced on the official Gmail blog that it is adding CardDAV, the open protocol for syncing contacts, to the list of protocols supporting Gmail and Google Calendar. This means third-party clients, such as the iOS Contacts app, will now be able to sync Google contacts using the protocol rather than using alternative options like Exchange. Google noted the addition is “making it possible for 3rd parties to build a seamless Google Account sync experience.” Google also explained the benefit of the CardDAV protocol:

When you sync your Google contacts using CardDAV, you’ll be able to edit, add, and remove contacts from your device and keep them in sync everywhere you use them… If you have set up iCloud, are syncing contacts from another account, or already have contacts stored on the device, you will need to select a Default Account. New contacts created directly on your iOS device will be added to your default account.

Google provided the following instructions to sync your Google contacts on iOS with CardDAV:
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Google’s new Field Trip app begins the journey to serendipitous geo-computing

Google is releasing version 1.0 of a new app, called “Field Trip”, today that runs in the background and provides users with information about their surroundings as they navigate the world. After setting the frequency of Field Trip notifications, the app works without a user having to activate. It provides users with notifications containing information about places they are nearby. The app’s ability to provide users with information about the world around them, in some cases without even having to look at the screen, is something that the app’s creator thinks could help reach Google’s goal to move “the device out of your way and put the information front and center.” It is a philosophy that goes hand-in-hand with Google Glass, and it could be Google’s first step toward developing apps that break the mold of traditional mobile apps. Speaking with the New York Times, the app’s creator said these new types of apps would allow users to “scan the environment and know what the Web knows about the places around you.”

The app pulls data from a number of sources, such as Zagat, Food Network, Songkick, Cool Hunting and Atlas Obscura, and it displays information for a number of categories including: Architecture, Historic Places & Events, Lifestyle, Offers & Deals, Food Drinks & Fun, Movie Locations, Outdoor Art and Obscure Places of Interest.

The app can even read the information to you. For instance, as you drive, it display points of interest on a map and learns what you like the more you use it. The New York Times, which spoke with the developers of the app, explained the creators came from Keyhole—a mapping company Google bought to improve Google Maps:

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