Barnes and Noble and Microsoft ‘Nook up’ for digital joint venture

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This is big news: Until now, Barnes and Noble was at odds (lawsuits) with Microsoft over its Android-based Nook software. Today, the two companies announced a Digital Joint Venture. While the press release does not say so specifically, it would appear that Barnes and Noble might abandon Android as its future eReader OS. Moreover, this would seem to put the previous patent litigation behind the two companies.

Barnes and Noble announced its intentions to spin off its digital arm in January.

BKS doubled in pre-market trading:

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Google X founder shows Project Glass photo capturing capabilities on Charlie Rose

While we have not really received an example of what the Google Project Glass glasses can do, Google provided word on some of its features—specifically around augmented reality and other smartphone-like apps. In a new interview today, we got a closer look at the glasses. Google X (the team at Google who is working to develop these glasses among other products) founder Sebastian Thrun went on “Charlie Rose” last evening to discuss and show off the new prototype. During the show’s taping, Thrun posted a picture taken from the glasses. This is our first look at what the Glasses can actually do.

The Glasses were first noticed in the real world on Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s face at an event earlier this month. Brin was wearing a prototype of the glasses, which were said to look very lightweight. Brin made a comment at the time that the glasses were just rebooting and no actual features were working.

However, looking at last night’s post, Project Glass looks to be coming along quite nicely. As we reported a few weeks ago, Google is still up in the air about giving out pairs at Google I/O this summer. You can check out the interview here, where Thrun discussed more Glass features like composing email and having message read aloud.

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Hulu Plus hack makes Android app Samsung Epic Touch 4G-compatible (as well as other unsupported phones)

Hacker “ReActiveDisorder” posted, well, a hack on the XDADevelopers forum recently that allows the Hulu Plus app to work with the Samsung Epic Touch 4G without a root.

“I have a Hulu membership and was angry cause our device wasnt “Compatible”. Talk about a total rip off. So I modded the apk to work with our device. It is 100% Fully functioning. I hope to contribute more later down the road. Maybe an ICS Rom ;-),” explained ReActiveDisorder on the forum.

Directions:
1. Download the Modded APK at http://db.tt/sq1AjQQu 
2. Sideload APK—it installs like other non-market apps.
3. Sign into Hulu Plus (membership required).

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Google invests $300M in Iowa data center

Google is constructing a data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, which would bring the Mountain View, Calif.-based Company’s total investments in the town to nearly $1 billion.

According to the Associated Press, the search engine said the $300 million data center would add 50 new jobs to the area ranging from computer repair to logistics. Construction on the 1,000-acre project is slated to begin immediately; although, details regarding an end-date are not confirmed.

“Google’s secure data centers are some of the most energy efficient in the world,” explained Google on its Date Centers website. “Each year we save millions of dollars on energy costs, and we use renewable energy whenever we can.”

Google invested $600 million in another Iowa data enter three-years-ago to support an array of its services like Search, Maps, and Gmail. The technical plant spurred 200 new jobs, and Operations Manager for the Council Bluffs Google data center Chris Russell said Google intends to use its latest investment for the same purposes.

“We are glad to be in Iowa, and Google’s future here is very bright,” said Russell to the AP.

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Google vs Oracle bits: Original Google Phone, Android revs, and $10 data plan

There is a lot of interesting news coming out of the Google v. Oracle Java trial today. Yesterday, former CEO Eric Schmidt gave his testimony to the court, and today Andy Rubin took the stand where he revealed a slide deck with Google’s ambitions to sell 10 million Android tablets during 2011 and other pieces of information related to Android revenue.

On-hand reports from The Verge point us to a few of the more intriguing statements made by Rubin and others today:

Google Phone:

The image above is of the “original Google phone” concept presented to carriers almost two years before Google finally launched the first Android handset, the T-Mobile G1. The images of the device came up in the trial due to references to Java in the designs. A year later, in May 2007, almost a year after iPhone, Google was still designing Android with a physical keyboard in mind—as noted in Android specification documents during the trial.

Android Revenue:

First, we get a close look at Android revenue numbers for the first time. The numbers come from a quarterly report given by Rubin and others in 2010 that show the company expected revenue from Android to reach $278.1 million during the year.

The forecast was based on increasing the roughly 20 million Android phones in the market at the time to 40 million by the end of the year. Google was also expecting to pull in $158.9 million in Android ad revenue and just $3.8 million from its 30 percent cut of app sales. According to the report, Google forecasted bringing in $840.2 million from Android ads and $35.9m from app sales in 2012.

Subsidized unlimited data plans:

Another interesting document that emerged from the trial shows Google suggested to T-Mobile in 2006 that it would give up its finder’s fee commission for new customers in order to provide Android phones with $10 monthly unlimited data plans. Of course, that plan was never carried out, and the original Android T-Mobile G1 launched with the conventional $25+ plans.

Google Ideas helps launch counter-radicalization ‘Against Violent Extremism’ network

Today, on the Official Google Blog, the company unveiled its next step for the Google Ideas think tank run by former ‘Twitterer in Chief” of the State Department Jared Cohen. In the post, Google announced it would support the Against Violent Extremism, a new online network created by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. The project aims to bring awareness to the issue of counter-radicalization while forming a “global network of formers, survivors of violent extremism, NGOs, academics, think tanks and private sector execs.” Google Ideas Director Jared Cohen explained:

This is the first time that former extremists, survivors, nonprofits and private sector leaders from around the world are combining forces and using online tools to tackle the problem of violent extremism… Until now, there has never before been a one-stop shop for people who want to help fight these challenges—a place to connect with others across sectors and disciplines to get expertise and resources.

The AVE network will consist of various resources such as videos, literature, online tools and forums, and information about projects related to the network. The website also includes an interactive map highlighting people, events, and resources for specific locations. The network will “spotlight formers as positive role models for youth” and provide a tool for the public to tackle radicalization issues that many rely on government to fix.

Cohen elaborated by outlining the focus for Google Ideas going forward:

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Microsoft adds Pegatron to patent-licensing portfolio

Microsoft just revealed it signed a patent agreement with Pegatron that covers the Windows maker’s patent portfolio for a variety of Android and Chrome-based consumer electronics.

The Redmond, Wash.-headquartered Corporation now has coverage for eReaders, smartphones, and tablets running Google’s operating system. Both parties admitted Microsoft would receive royalties from Pegatron; however, the agreement’s particulars were not disclosed.

Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Intellectual Property Horacio Gutierrez said the agreement with Pegatron reflects continued success of its Android licensing program by settling IP issues regarding Android OS and Chrome-powered devices in the marketplace.

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Google Maps now offers photo tours of the world’s most popular landmarks

Google introduced photo tours today—a new feature of Google Maps that allows users to watch 3D photomontages of worldwide landmarks by virtue of user-contributed content.

The tours are now available for more than 15,000 locations, and they include popular tourist spots like Italy’s St. Mark’s Basilica or Yosemite’s Half Dome. The new feature is accessible when a user searches for a place, and then the left-hand panel will display any live photo tours. Just click the thumbnail or link to embark on the photo tour. Indications for photo tours also appear when browsing Google Maps. In this instance, just click a landmark’s label to find an available photo tour.

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Some users complaining of Google Drive for Mac crashing Finder

Along with the release of the long-awaited Google Drive, Google also released a slick Mac app accompanying the service. However, it looks like the Google Drive for Mac app is causing some issues for some. Over on the Google Products Forums, the amount of users complaining that Drive is causing Finder on OS X to crash is growing. One of our readers, Mike, reported Finder crashing a whopping eight times since he installed Drive earlier this afternoon and has included the crash report to prove it.

Also, in the thread, user robbysibrahim said the issue stopped for him when he paused syncing. This obviously is not a permanent solution, but it should work until Google rolls out an official fix. A Google support member joined the thread in hopes of helping the users, but his suggestions have not provided a fix.

Right now, it is a little unclear why this is happening. However, we have reached out to Google in the hopes of hearing back. This is obviously very frustrating for users who want to try Google Drive on launch day. Are you seeing similar issues? Cheers, Mike!

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Google releases SDK for integrating web apps with Google Drive

You probably know by now that Google just unveiled its new cloud service called “Google Drive.” The service integrates with Google Docs online, offers an Android app, and it provides a desktop app for Dropbox-like functionality. In addition, Google announced availability of a Google Drive SDK and 18 web apps that used the SDK to create apps integrated with the service.

Integrating your application with Google Drive makes it available to millions of users. Drive apps are distributed from the Chrome Web Store, and can be used with any modern browser. Plus, your app can take advantage of Google’s sharing, storage, and identity management features.

So, what exactly will the Google Drive SDK allow you to do? Google will allow you to integrate sharing through Drive directly into your apps that manage files such as web app Lucidchart. Google already partnered with 18 apps that have integrated Drive features. The post also explained how Google would let you tap into Drive’s storage and indexing features:
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Google’s Eric Schmidt testifies at Oracle vs Google trial; Exec’s sarcasm abound during 3-hr testimony

Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt took the stand at 9 a.m. PST this morning to give his direct testimony during the Oracle v. Google trial, and while the questioning hulked along, the executive’s answers glimmered with cynicism.

Oracle’s counsel immediately showcased a plethora of documents from 2005 and 2006 that seemingly depicted the Internet giant as having prior knowledge about needing Sun software licensing agreements to apply Java in the Android mobile operating system, but the Executive Chairman denied the exhibited emails and presentations and remained steadfast to his defense that he was unaware Google even needed permission to employ the open-source software.

Oracle, a database software giant based in Redwood City, Calif., sued Google in August 2010, and alleged the Android operating system violated a number of patents and copyrights within Java, which Oracle acquired through Sun Microsystems. Android currently runs on more than 150 million mobile devices. Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., denies the contention.

In today’s court appearance, Oracle is essentially alleging that Schmidt and Google had clear knowledge that they did not have explicit rights to use Java in Android. Meanwhile, many Google officials, including Schmidt, profess otherwise.

[Schmidt's testimony lasted until 12 p.m. PST—see below for details.]

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Google Drive goes live [Video]

After what felt like years of speculation, Google finally released its Google Drive product. The rumors were true: 5GB, Mac and PC apps, collaboration and editing, OCR, and —of course —a hefty search. Google also released an Android Google Drive app that allows you to access the service directly from your mobile device.

  • Create and collaborate. Google Docs is built right into Google Drive, so you can work with others in real time on documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Once you choose to share content with others, you can add and reply to comments on anything (PDF, image, video file, etc.) and receive notifications when other people comment on shared items.
  • Store everything safely and access it anywhere (especially while on the go). All your stuff is just… there. You can access your stuff from anywhere—on the web, in your home, at the office, while running errands and from all of your devices. You can install Drive on your Mac or PC and can download the Drive app to your Android phone or tablet. We’re also working hard on a Drive app for your iOS devices. And regardless of platform, blind users can access Drive with a screen reader.
  • Search everything. Search by keyword and filter by file type, owner and more. Drive can even recognize text in scanned documents using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. Let’s say you upload a scanned image of an old newspaper clipping. You can search for a word from the text of the actual article. We also use image recognition so that if you drag and drop photos from your Grand Canyon trip into Drive, you can later search for [grand canyon] and photos of its gorges should pop up. This technology is still in its early stages, and we expect it to get better over time.

As for pricing, Walt Mossberg at The Wall Street Journal did some digging and discovered additional storage is significantly cheaper than alternatives such as Dropbox and SugarSync:
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