Google developing parental controls for Chrome via ‘supervised user’ accounts

parental

BrowserFame spotted a feature in the Canary (development) version of Chrome that would allow parents and schools to created ‘supervised user’ accounts whose access to the web can be controlled by a master account.

The approach is an extension of the standard accounts available in Chrome, allowing different users to have different settings and to be automatically signed-in to Google services …  Read more

(In Soviet Russia) Beats to drop HTC

HTC Rezound Launch Event

According to the Wall St. Journal, Dr. Dre’s Beats may be considering buying back HTC’s share of the business.

The maker of the popular Beats by Dr. Dre headphones is looking to buy out its Asian partner and bring in a new investor that can provide it with fresh funds for growth, people familiar with the matter said.

The moves come as the founders of Beats Electronics LLC—music mogul Jimmy Iovine and American hip-hop producer and artist Andre Young, better known as Dr. Dre—are broadening the company’s business from headphones to include speakers, audio systems in cars and consumer electronics and a soon-to-be-launched online streaming music service.

It isn’t mentioned in the article but with the much larger Beats partner HP now making Android tablets and possibly phones, there might be some conflict in Beats branding land.  HTC is obviously having some issues financially so maybe the smaller guy is getting edged out and is more willing to take the money and run.

Having listened to a variety of Beats phones and headphones, I haven’t noticed an appreciable improvement in performance, especially for the price. The Beats Pill was one of the best portable bluetooth speakers I’ve listened to however.  Read more

Google’s 20 Percent Time – birthplace of Gmail, Google maps & Adsense – now effectively dead

20-time

One of the cornerstones of Google’s reputation for innovation – its 20% Time scheme – is now effectively gone, according to a report by Quartz, citing anonymous Google employees.

Google’s 20% Time allowed engineers to spend the equivalent of one day a week working on a personal project without having to justify it to anyone. Gmail, Google maps, Adsense, Google Talk and many other products were born from this scheme. Adsense alone is responsible for around 25 percent of Google’s annual revenue.

Now, says the report, it is all but dead …  Read more

Smart finally beats dumb, smartphones hitting 51.8 percent of global sales in Q2

Image: gawkerassets.com

Image: gawkerassets.com

In the circles most of us hang out, it might seem incredible that featurephones – aka dumb phones – were still outselling smartphones until recently, but that was indeed the case right up to the first quarter of this year. The latest Gartner figures show that smartphones finally broke ahead in Q2, achieving 51.8 percent of worldwide phone sales.

Smartphones accounted for 51.8 percent of mobile phone sales in the second quarter of 2013, resulting in smartphone sales surpassing feature phone sales for the first time,” said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner. Asia/Pacific, Latin America and Eastern Europe exhibited the highest smartphone growth rates of 74.1 percent, 55.7 percent and 31.6 percent respectively, as smartphone sales grew in all regions …

There was good news for both Samsung and Google in the figures …  Read more

Samsung sued for $110M in Brazil after Ministry of Labor finds labor rights violations

samsung-brazil

According to a report from ReporterBrasil, an organization and news agency reporting on labor rights issues in Brazil, prosecutors in the country have filed a lawsuit against Samsung related to poor working conditions in one of the company’s factories. According to the report, the lawsuit was filed after the Ministry of Labor (MPT) found labor rights violations in a Samsung plant located in Zona Franca de Manaus that’s used to assemble some of the company’s smartphones supplied to Latin America:

The lawsuit filed by prosecutors is based on the assessment notices by registered auditors of the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MTE) after two inspections made at the factory in Manaus – one in May 2011 and another in May this year. Through technical analysis, they found that the employees of South Korean company come to hold three times more strokes per minute than the limit considered safe for ergonomic studies.

Some of the infractions mentioned in the translated report include workers spending in excess of 10-15 hours a day on foot without a break for up to 27 workdays in a row, and around 2,018 requests by employees to be removed due to health problems. The plant is said to employ around 5,600 employees total: Read more

Google working on the next generation of conversational search: the virtual PA

Photo: chromespot.com

Photo: chromespot.com

When Google announced (and later began rolling out) conversational search back in May, the company saw that as only the start. The company’s plans for the feature take us all the way into the realms of a true virtual personal assistant.

If you haven’t yet tried conversational search in Chrome, the feature as it stands is useful but basic. Speak a search like “How old is Barack Obama?” and Chrome will speak the answer. With a person, you could then ask a series of follow-up questions like “How tall is he?”, “Who is his wife?” and “How old is she?” and they would know who you were referring to in each question. That’s the functionality Google is rolling out, remembering who or what you just asked about and interpreting pronouns appropriately.

But Google’s long-term plans are far more ambitious. In an interview with TechFlash, Google Research Fellow Jeff Dean talked to Jon Xavier about his team’s work on machine learning and neural nets to expand Google’s abilities in conversational search …  Read more