Google’s balloon-based Internet project moves into live testing with first carrier

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Project Loon, Google’s ambitious balloon-based project to bring Internet access to the two-thirds of the world’s population who don’t yet have it, is about to begin its first live tests with a real carrier, reports The Guardian.

Australian carrier Telstra is providing base stations and part of its radio spectrum to allow Google to carry out tests with 20 balloons. The base stations will provide a two-way radio link with the balloons, which will then broadcast an LTE signal back to the ground – each balloon providing a signal across up to 600 square miles …  Read more

Google, Apple, Facebook, other tech companies lobbying to stop NSA spying before new congress takes over in January

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Bloomberg reports that groups representing Apple, Google, Facebook and other high profile tech companies are lobbying to pass a new bill that attempts to limit NSA spying of email and communications of their users. The report says the groups are “pushing the Senate to pass legislation limiting National Security Agency spying before the Republican majority takes control of the chamber.” The news comes ahead of the Senate vote on the new bill scheduled for Nov. 18 and an upcoming Republican controlled Congress taking over in January: Read more

YouTube launches Music Key streaming service for $10/mo: no ads, offline playback, full albums & Play Music access

Google today officially announced its highly rumored YouTube music subscription service and its calling it YouTube Music Key. YouTube’s Music Key service with be available for a monthly subscription of $9.99 and unlock ad-free music, offline playback and video viewing, and the ability to play music in the background when using other apps.

The service is rolling out as a beta next week with a promotional price of $7.99/month, and early adopters will be able to request access from YouTube.com/MusicKey. YouTube’s Music Key beta service will be available through the YouTube apps on Android and iOS and through YouTube.com.

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Google-owned Boston Dynamics debuts new video of Atlas robot mimicking ‘The Karate Kid’

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Google-owned robotics lab Boston Dynanics has debuted new video of its 6’2″ Atlas robot, also known as “Ian.” The hulking mass of metal, which weighs a whopping 330 lbs, has been programmed to recreate a key scene from the 1984 film The Karate Kid.

Ian is part of an ongoing robotics project that seeks to create automatons that can replace humans in hazardous roles like firefighting. Ian has already demonstrated a variety of abilities, including traversing difficult and uneven terrain, carrying objects such as firehoses, and even to get into a car and drive it. It can also use both its hands and feet to climb over the most treacherous obstacles.

Video below:

Google to lease Moffett Airfield from NASA to use as home for its advanced research facilities

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Google has been using NASA’s Moffett Airfield as a home and launch pad for its private jets for several years now, but today, the company announced that it has singed a deal with NASA in which it will lease the airfield for the next 60 years. Google, via its real estate organization Planetary Ventures, will contribute $1.16 billion to the facilities over the lease, reducing NASA’s operation costs by $6.3 million annually.

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Google donating $10 million to fight Ebola, launches donation matching campaign

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Google CEO Larry Page announced on the company’s blog today that Google has donated $10 million to several nonprofit organizations in an effort to fight the Ebola virus disease. Among the nonprofit organizations Google has donated money, “InSTEDD, International Rescue Committee, Medecins Sans Frontieres, NetHope, Partners in Health, Save the Children and U.S. Fund for UNICEF” are included according to Page.

In addition to donating $10 million to assist nonprofit groups in the fight against Ebola, Google is pledging to donate $2 for ever $1 donated to its public giving campaign. Funds raised through Google’s public giving campaign will go toward the Network for Good and continue until an addition $7.5 million is raised. Read more

Google Genomics can store your genome in the cloud for $25 a year

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From modular phones to cancer detecting nanoparticles, Google sure has a lot in its pipeline. But lurking behind those high-profile projects is Google Genomics, a project that will store complete copies of genomes. The search giant started working on this particular moonshot about a year and a half ago, partnering with scientists and developing an API that allows them to move DNA data into its servers.

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Amazon announces Echo, a dedicated, Google Now-like speaker system for quick information

Amazon today announced a new hardware product called Echo. It’s essentially a speaker unit dedicated to being a voice-control system. It kind of sounds like Google Now but in a speaker for a single room instead of in your Android smartphone, tablet, or watch.

You can set alarms, control music, ask about the weather, search the web, ask questions, and access local news. It streams content via Bluetooth and WiFi, and connects to the Fire Phone (if you have one), iOS via the browser, Android, and desktop computers via the web. Instead of “Okay Google,” you say “Alexa” to start speaking the device. You’ll need a Fire OS/Android device to take full advantage.

The whole concept is very futuristic, and it’s unclear how beneficial this will be to people with voice-controlled phones. But, hey, this comes from the developers of a faux-3D phone, so this is not completely out of left field. The Echo is $99 for Amazon Prime users, $199 for everyone else, and (for some reason) you need an invitation to receive the honor to buy one of these things.

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Google and LG forge patent pact, agree to cross-license tech freely for 10 years

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Google and LG have entered into a new agreement that will see both companies cross-licensing technology patents and products that covers all existing patents as well as any filed during the next decade. Google says the point of this agreement is to ensure that both companies can focus on innovating rather than worrying about who owns which technology.

Earlier this year Google created a similar agreement with Samsung in an attempt by the Mountain View-based corporation to forge tighter bonds with its Android handset makers while enabling them to take on competition from Apple.

The full press release from Google and LG is included below:

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