J&R outs Sony’s Next Generation GoogleTV: Gesture enabled remote and voice actions for $199

We know Sony was picking up the Google TV set-top box baton that Logitech ceremoniously dropped, but we were expecting to hear more about it at Google I/O later this month. Thankfully, J&R is giving us a heavy spoiler of the $199 device:

Sony expands home-entertainment choices with the NSZ-GS7 Media Player with Google TV. Boasting a host of features including Web browsing and picture-in-picture, the media player’s real strength lies in the impressive Google TV remote. Equipped with a full QWERTY keyboard, a Touchpad that supports gestures, and a Microphone for voice commands, the Google TV remote may be a Streaming accessory to be reckoned with.

The Google TV difference starts with the cross search functionality, which crawls all content sources available from Broadcast providers and the Internet to deliver customized Video results on demand.

The $200 price does not bode well as Google tries to compete with Apple for the set-top box market, even though Google adds a different subset of features including a much smarter remote. I imagine the market for this will be Android device owners who can use their devices to control the TV just as Apple TV owners use their iOS devices.

via Engadget

Prominent developers begin pulling games from Google+

Developers Wooga and PopCap recently announced that they are pulling a few games from Google+.

Wooga develops free-to-play browser-based games for social networks and is currently the world’s fourth-largest game developer by monthly active users on the Facebook platform as of April. The Berlin, Germany-based firm confirmed that it took down Monster World from Google’s social network offerings and said more removals are coming.

“We decided to remove certain games from Google+ because we have a much larger following on Facebook and they are active users,” said a Wooga representative to AllThingsD.

According to Social Games Observer, Wooga will further cut Bubble Island and Diamond Dash on July 1. Meanwhile, PopCap Games is a Seattle, Wash.-based subsidiary of Electronic Arts that also confirmed it is eliminating titles from Google+. The company revealed its Bejeweled game would no longer be live starting on Monday.

“PopCap has decided to suspend Bejeweled Blitz on Google+ to redeploy our resources to other adaptations of Bejeweled. Certainly, Google is a valuable gaming partner for PopCap and EA, and we’ll continue to develop for Google platforms,” explained a PopCap spokesperson to AllThingsD.

Read more

Amazon’s Kindle app now supports 1000 titles for children’s books, graphic novels, and comics

Amazon just bulked its Kindle app for Android, iOS, and its Cloud Reader by adding children’s books, comics, and graphic novels that were previously exclusive to Kindle Fire owners.

The apps now offer over 1,000 titles for children with features like Text Pop-Up, which help to improve and simplify the reading experience, and Kindle Panel view for comics and graphics to allow panel-by-panel viewing. A few of the literary additions include Brown Bear, Curious George, Batman, and Superman.

Android tablet owners, or those with Cloud Reader on a widescreen display, will also notice the ability to customize their reading experience with new margin and line spacing controls. The update also brings side-by-side viewing of two pages in landscape mode. Meanwhile, iOS users have a new Search option to locate content by title or author.

This article is cross-posted on 9to5Mac.

Read more

AT&T’s Sony Xperia Ion available for $99 on June 24

While it already made the rounds at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, Sony and AT&T made things official today for the Xperia Ion. It is coming exclusively to the carrier starting June 24. Available for $100 on the usual two-year contract, Sony’s first LTE device packs a 4.6-inch (1,280-by-720) “Reality” display, 1.5Ghz dual-core processor, 12-megapixel main, 720p front-facing cameras, and 16GB of memory via microSD. It is also PlayStation Certified. AT&T will make the Sony Xperia Ion available through its regular retail channels on June 24.

Read more

Google releases employees’ sworn denials in Street View data cropping case

Google released sworn denials (PDF) on Tuesday from nine Googlers who claimed they had no knowledge about data mining in the Street View mapping project.

Google Street View is a service highlighted in Google Maps and Google Earth that offers panoramic views of streets. It launched in 2007 in the United States and expanded to many cities and rural areas worldwide. The project ambitiously maps the world’s streets with photographs, but the plotting venture allegedly cropped unencrypted Internet data from wireless networks for roughly three years until 2010.

Google’s Street View automobiles gathered sensitive information, including private dispatches, as it roamed many boulevards, avenues, roads, highways, lanes, and thoroughfares across the globe. Tuesday’s unveiled declarations by nine Google engineers featured redacted names and titles, while it explicitly disclosed that the Mountain View, Calif.-based Company employees did not know about the misconduct. The Googlers were in the dark, because either content collection was not a part of their job, or they did not assess given project documentation.

It eventually became publicly clear that Street View gathered unencrypted information, like emails and Internet searches beamed between personal computers from within homes, thanks to German regulators who began to probe the mapping service in their country. When the findings came to light, Google fingered a nameless engineer as being solely responsible for the action, which resulted in a Federal Communications Commission inquiry.

The search engine did not break any laws, the regulatory body found, but it did obstruct the investigation. The F.C.C. fined the company $25,000, despite the sworn documents having been originally provided as part of the inquiry into Street View.

Read more

Google reaches ‘ground-breaking’ deals with French publishers for out-of-print books

According to a post on Google’s European Public Policy Blog, the company is forging groundbreaking partnerships with French publishers that it believes “will put France ahead of the rest of the world in bringing long lost out-of-print works back to life.” The agreements, Google claimed, will put an end to roughly six years of legal disputes with several publishers and authors in the country. The deals will also allow Google to continue ahead in its goal to bring the almost 75 percent of books that are currently out of print and unavailable to most. The result is publishers working with Google to “promote and commercialize” scanned copies of out-of-print works:

Read more

Andy Rubin: 900k Android devices are being activated daily

Are you ready for an Android fun fact? In a tweet that shot down rumors about him leaving Google to join new startup Cloud Car, Android boss Andy Rubin revealed there are now 900,000 Android devices being activated on a daily basis. That is a 200,000-unit increase since December.

A few Meebo services already shutting down next month

The reason most people do not like when a larger company—like Google—acquires a smaller company is that the smaller usually begins to shut down services. We have seen it happen a ton, and Google’s acquisition of Meebo is no different. Just after the acquisition was announced earlier this week, Engadget reported that Meebo would begin shutting down a number of its services starting July 11. Among the features being axed are Meebo Messenger, Sharing on Meebo, MeeboMe, and all the mobile apps that Meebo makes available. The closing down of services is most likely happening because the Meebo team is set to work on Google+ features.

Meebo did state that they plan to keep its Bar product alive for a few more months, and it will make chat logs and history available for download. Is anyone upset?

Read more

Google reportedly working on Google Wallet 2.0, as Sprint allegedly works to launch its own solution

Google Wallet is certainly an impressive piece of technology, but only coming pre-installed on one carrier in the US, it’s not exactly off to the greatest start. In hopes of revamping the service, Google has begun work on Wallet 2.0, reports The Verge. The revamped service will allegedly featured a more cloud-based architecture, which will be helped by Google’s recent acquisition of TxVia. Currently, Google Wallet only comes pre-installed on the Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus on Sprint. For Google Wallet 2.0 to really take off, it would make sense for Google to get a few more partners on board. However, the other three major carriers are attached to their own mobile payment product, called Isis.

But, Google may not be partnered with the Now Network for too much longer. According to a new report out today from the NFC Times, Sprint is currently working with partners to launch its own mobile payment service — allegedly called “Touch”. It’s not exactly clear if Sprint plans to drop Google Wallet, but offering their own service would give them more control, and it wouldn’t make sense for them to hold on two both platforms. We’re sure more information will come soon.

As for more on Google 2.0, that will most likely be discussed at this year’s Google I/O conference, taking place from June 27th – 29th in San Francisco.

Read more

Google’s VP counters anti-competitive allegations from Nextag CEO

Google attempted to “set the record straight” today with a blog post aimed to dismantle rising anti-competitive claims against the world’s leading search engine.

The Wall Street Journal published a scathing post yesterday—penned by the CEO of online retailer Nextag—that essentially painted Google as a monopoly. No—Jeff Katz did not paint; he declared:

Google has enjoyed this unrivaled position for nearly a decade. It is the most popular search engine in the world, controlling nearly 82% of the global search market and 98% of the mobile search market. Its annual revenue is larger than the economies of the world’s 28 poorest countries combined. And its closest competitor, Bing, is so far behind in both market share and revenue that Google has become, effectively, a monopoly.

The company has used its position to bend the rules to help maintain its online supremacy, including the use of sophisticated algorithms weighted in favor of its own products and services at the expense of search results that are truly most relevant. […]

At my company, Nextag, a comparison shopping site for products and services, we regularly analyze the level of search traffic we get from Google. It’s easy to see when Google makes changes to its algorithms that effectively punish its competitors, including us. Our data, which we shared with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 21, 2011, shows without a doubt that Google has stacked the deck. And as a result, it has shifted from a true search site into a commerce site—a commerce site whose search algorithm favors products and services from Google and those from companies able to spend the most on advertising.

Read more

Press shot for AT&T’s Motorola ‘Dinara’ leaks online (Photo)

Motorola announced its Dinara smartphone— officially known as the “xT928″ – for China Telecom last November, but a supposed press leak of the AT&T variation just surfaced stateside.

The Verge received a media shot of the rumored device today (above). As the report noted, the assumed Atrix 2 successor boasts a 720p display, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and 4G LTE. The notable feature, however, is not really a feature at all: the Dinara lacks physical home buttons on the front display. Much is unknown about the smartphone this point; even its name is not set in stone. However, the “July 26″ stamp within the date widget might finally give a hint as to when this device will launch.

Google closed its $12.5 billion Motorola Mobility acquisition last Month when China gave the merger an overdue go-ahead. Motorola promptly filed an 8-K form with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the deal’s transaction finalized shortly after. It appears the Dinara’s software and user-interface is unaffected by the recent Google buyout and will likely sport a Motoblur flavor.

Read more

Judge orders Oracle to pay Google’s $300K in legal fees

A jury decided this last month that Google did not infringe upon Oracle’s patents, but it has recently come to light that Oracle must pay Google’s steep legal fees accrued during the trial.

Oracle, a database software giant based in Redwood City, Calif., sued Google in August 2010, while alleging the Android operating system violated a number of patents and copyrights within Java, which Oracle acquired through Sun Microsystems. Android currently powers more than 150 million mobile devices. Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., adamantly denied Oracle’s contention, and claimed the Android team was unaware of Sun’s patents before the suit.

Google spokesperson Jim Prosser told Business Insider that Oracle did not succeed in landing a $6 billion settlement from Google, but it did win the responsibility of paying Google’s $300,000 in legal expenses.

Read more