Google invests $300M in largest ever fund for residential solar power

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Google has invested $300M in a SolarCity fund designed to bring solar power to around 25,000 homes. Debt financing brings the total to $750M, making it the largest ever investment in residential solar power, reports Reuters.

While investing in solar power makes sound economic sense for homeowners, as well as being good for the environment, many are deterred by the typical $20-30,000 upfront cost of purchasing the panels. The SolarCity fund instead allows homeowners to lease the panels, paying a monthly fee to do so …  Read more

Google reportedly planning to revamp mobile payment offering at I/O with launch of ‘Android Pay’

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Google is planning to overhaul its mobile payment system in May during its I/O developer conference, a new report suggests. Google recently purchased “some” technology from SoftCard, with several major US carriers planning to pre-load Wallet on all new phones in the coming months.

The revitalized payment software is being referred to as “Android Pay” by Ars Technica, and like Apple’s own similarly named product, it will support payments in physical retailers as well as in-app sales. The entire offering will take advantage of Host Card Emulation, which essentially presents the phone to an NFC terminal as a clone of the card.

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Google’s Lunar XPrize competition will come down to 500-metre moon race between two robots

The two competing lunar robots, Astrobotic top, Hakuto bottom

The two competing lunar robots, Astrobotic top, Hakuto bottom

Google’s Lunar XPrize competition, to be the first team to take a robot to the moon, looks like it will come down to a head-to-head race between two competing robots–one American, one Japanese.

While five teams were awarded prizes for achieving key milestones along the way to the final goal, two of the robots appear set to get there first, jointly commissioning the same SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to carry them to the moon in the second half of 2016, with a race across the lunar surface determining the winner …  Read more

Google updates Blogger terms, bans explicit content starting March 23rd

blogger-homepageGoogle announced tonight that it will be updating its adult content policy on the Blogger platform once again. Starting March 23rd, no sites built on Blogger will be allowed to publicly share “sexually explicit” content or media containing “graphic nudity.”

Sites that currently host objectionable content will be required to either remove it or set the blog to private. Google also suggests exporting a site and moving it to a different host if neither of those options are suitable. Blogs that violate the policy after March 25th will risk being set to private automatically. Google says no sites will be completely deleted due to this change.

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LG announces new 4-pack of mid-range smartphones: Magna, Spirit, Leon and Joy

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LG unveiled its 2015 midrange smartphone lineup tonight during the Oscars (smooth). Named Magna, Spirit, Leon and Joy, they vary from 5 to 4 inches in size and carry decent specs across the board. The question for me is how badly has LG messed with the Lollipop that will go on these and of course base prices which will be unveiled at MWC  next week. Lots more imags, specs and even a press release below. Read more

Judge dismisses class-action anti-trust suit against Google over Android & Search practices

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Last May, Google was hit with an class-action anti-trust lawsuit over several of its Android and Search practices. The case centered around the idea that Google was forcing Android handset manufacturers to make its search engine the default on all their devices, as well as pre-load apps such as YouTube. These practices, in turn, drove up the price of Android devices. Reuters reports this evening, however, that a federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit due to a lack of evidence from the plaintiffs.

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Google agrees to Italian regulatory checks following data collection privacy investigation

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Last year, the Italian government gave Google 18 months to reform its tata collection policies and change the way it stores and treats that user data. The Wall Street Journal reports today that Google has now agreed to allow the Italian government to perform spot checks at its Mountain View headquarters. The regulator will get quarterly updates from Google and have the ability to send someone  to Mountain View for “on-the-spot checks.”

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Google kicks off annual Science Fair w/ $100k in scholarships & grants up for grabs

Google today has kicked off its fifth annual Science Fair in conjunction with LEGO Education, National Geographic, Scientific America, and Virgin Galactic. Starting today and running through May 18th, students between the ages of 13 and 18 can submit projects to Google across a variety of scientific fields for a chance to win one of a handful of prizes. Possible topics include biology, computer science, anthropology, and any other scientific field.

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Astro Teller: Google is making a modest return on its experimental lab investment

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Google X boss Astro Teller spoke with the New York Times on the topic of the experimental lab and the value it produces for the company, saying that the X lab’s goal is to find new technology markets that the Mountain View company can jump into and problems it can solve.

According to Teller, Google gives X projects a longer period of time in which to prove they can become profitable. He specifically highlights the “Neural Network Project” (previously known as Google Brain) as one project that has turned a serious profit. In fact, Brain is now bringing in enough “value” to offset the costs of running the entire X lab, Teller says:

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Pebble publicly launches 2.3 software update with actionable notifications and Android Wear compatibility

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Pebble announced in December that it would be launching a new update for its smartwatch software that would enable actionable notifications and compatibility with Android Wear-supported apps. By updating to the latest version of the Pebble app for Android and the lastest device software, users can take advantage of any Android Wear action right from their Pebble.

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Google adds two-week grace period to Project Zero bug squashing initiative

Google Personal Search

Google announced its Project Zero initiative in the middle part of last year, and now the Mountain View company is making some amendments to the rules for disclosure of bugs it finds in vendors’ software. There has been a 90-day deadline in place since the launch of the program, and that seems to be working well according to a post on the Project Zero blog, but the company says that it has taken into consideration “external feedback around some of the corner cases” and made some changes. Read more

Google Mattel Event today will merge View-Master line with Google Cardboard

I’m here, the event starts at 9ET. I’ll update as we go. I know my kids are stoked.

Announcements starting…embargos breaking…

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The Cardboard View-Master is the fruit of half a year of design. When Mattel saw the Google Cardboard they knew it was the next generation of View-Master.

1940 – Viewmaster was introduced – Stereoscopic viewer.

  • Can be bought via Google Play on the smartphone or on these little ‘reels’. That are probably SD cards in big cases.
  • The physical is a tie to the past – 75 years of View-Master.
  • Available this fall. For around $30. 4 reels will cost about $15 and have exclusive content.
  • Will launch on Android but will be available on other platforms iOS, Windows and more. Specs of Android phone are fuzzy at the moment.
  • These aren’t wearable. These are for kids and they should be able to put these on and take them off as they want. Not to zone out.
  • Will be 1st experience with 3D  for many kids. Mattel wanted to do it right – This works really well out of the gate but nailing down the experience.
  • Current Google Cardboard apps wil work with the new Mattel View-Master.
  • Testing with lots of pediatric ophthalmologists out of St. Louis University and others to make sure this is safe for kids.
  • Light-Gaming “treasure hunt” ideas are coming.
  • Mattel plans to release its new Google Cardboard based VR toy on iOS by end of the year