Leaving Google for Xiaomi nothing personal but “a dream job,” says Hugo Barra

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Hugo Barra, Google’s former VP of Android product development, says his move to Xiaomi was planned long before it emerged that Sergey Brin was romantically involved with his former girlfriend.

In an interview with AllThingsD, Barra said that the opportunity to play a key role in the global expansion of the company dubbed ‘the Apple of China’ was one he could not resist.

“To me, right away, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, truly a dream job, this idea of building a global company which could be as significant as Google from the ground up,” said Barra. “It was just something that I will never come across, with a team whom I know, with a company that has DNA similar to my own and, on top of that, to live in Asia for at least some period of time” …  Read more

A behind-the-scenes look at Motorola’s U.S. Moto X factory in Texas [Gallery]

The Verge has a great behind-the-scenes look at Motorola’s Moto X factory in Texas that is currently pumping out around 100,000 units of the new flagship device per week. We reported this morning that Motorola is currently shipping a disappointing 100k units a week, so it’s not that surprising to learn that around 200,000 square feet of the factory is not being used.

To accomplish this, Motorola partnered with Flextronics to refab a factory in Texas formerly used by Nokia. In a mere six months, the factory was completely updated and transformed to Motorola’s specifications, which including the hiring of 2,500 workers to make it run. Motorola did not actually make a final call to do manufacturing in the US until late 2012, but the factory was operational by August 6th of this year. The factory currently puts out about 100,000 devices per week, but Motorola says that it’s possible to scale it to tens of millions of units. Given that more than half of the over 400,000 square foot factory floor sits unused right now, that’s not too hard to believe.

It also spoke with Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside about why bringing assembly to the US was crucial for the Moto X’s MotoMaker customizations features.  Read more

Google: The levels of secrecy that have built up around national security requests undermine the basic freedoms that are at the heart of a democratic society

The NSA's $2b data centre in Bluffdale, Utah (source: businessweek.com)

The NSA’s $2b data centre in Bluffdale, Utah (source: businessweek.com)

Google today said that it was filing an amended petition (PDF) in the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court which mirrors requests made to Congress and the President a letter (PDF) earlier this year.  In conjunction with other industry player and civil liberties groups, Google is asking:

to be allowed to publish detailed statistics about the types (if any) of national security requests we receive under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, including Section 702. Given the important public policy issues at stake, we have also asked the court to hold its hearing in open rather than behind closed doors. It’s time for more transparency.

In addition, along with a number of other companies and trade associations, we are meeting the President’s Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies today. We’ll reiterate the same message there: that the levels of secrecy that have built up around national security requests undermine the basic freedoms that are at the heart of a democratic society. 

Google is also beefing up its encryption between data centers in response to multiple reports that the NSA has access to Google and every other major technology company’s Data.

Slimmer bezels mean Nexus 5 will have larger screen but smaller size than Nexus 4

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Developer Jack Underwood took the dimensions from the recent FCC approval of the LG D820 that has been pretty much confirmed as the Nexus 5 and compared them to the Nexus 4. The result? Despite a larger screen size with higher resolution, the Nexus 5 is actually smaller in every dimension.

If there were any lingering doubt about the match between the casings shown and the device slipped into the KitKat video, the animated GIF below seems to provide conclusive proof …  Read more

UK teen launches Thinkspace, seeks to bring software development to high schools around the world

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Thinkspace, an organization created by sixteen-year-old James Anderson, seeks to “inspire the next generation of app developers” through dedicated coding zones in high schools across the globe. Anderson formally launched Thinkspace this month with campuses in Plymouth and Northern Ireland.

Anderson first came up with the idea for Thinkspace when he became disappointed with the UK educational system’s approach to computer information and related topics. Rather than attempt to change the curriculum, Anderson sought to work around it by creating “Thinkspaces” within schools.

Read more

Amazon considers making its upcoming smartphone free (New statement: it won’t be)

Update Amazon has now said that the phone won’t be launched this year, and it won’t be free. “We have no plans to offer a phone this year, and if we were to launch a phone in the future, it would not be free,” Amazon said in a statement to AllThingsD.

According to Jessica Lessin and Amir Efrati, Amazon is considering making its upcoming, long-rumored smartphone available to consumers free of charge. However, it is unclear what strings are attached to the deal:

There are many unanswered questions about the plan and what strings will be attached for customers. One of them is whether Amazon would require its  smartphone owners to pay for services such as Amazon Prime, the company’s loyalty program. But the people familiar with the matter said that Amazon wants the device to be free whether or not people sign up for a new wireless plan at the same time. (Wireless carriers typically discount the price of devices if customers sign up for a one- or two-year wireless contract.)

A launch date for the device is currently unclear. Like with the Kindle Fire tablets, past reports have suggested that the Amazon phone will run on a forked version of Google’s Android operating system.

Earlier this year, reports emerged with claims that Amazon is working on a bevy of products, including a phone with a 3D display, and various audio/media center devices. Amazon’s hardware development division for these products is (like Apple) situated in Cupertino.

Read more

MyGlass Android companion app now acts as remote control for Google Glass

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MyGlass, the companion app Google created to allow you to screencast your Glass view to anyone with an Android phone, has now been updated to allow it to control Glass, reports Engadget.

The move was in response to feedback from Glass Explorers that “controlling its UI via swipes, nods and voice commands can sometimes be… awkward” …  Read more

FCC approval appears to confirm Nexus 5 is made by LG – with impressive specs

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The mystery over whether the Nexus 5 is made by LG or Motorola appears to have been solved by FCC approval documents. The documents refer to the handset as the LG ZNFD820, but all the signs point to this being the replacement for the Nexus 4, expected to be launched in the next month or so. Google recently slashed the price of the existing handset, with the 8GB model going out of stock for good.

It appears to match the video grab we caught earlier this week.

Engadget points out that the casing images appear to be an excellent match for the phone which Google apparently inadvertently included in the KitKat promo video that it swiftly withdrew. The specs also look likely for what we expect to be a significant upgrade to the Nexus 4 …  Read more

LG’s new G Pad 8.3 might be the best mid-sized Android tablet yet, we go hands-on

When LG announced its new G Pad 8.3 ahead of the IFA consumer electronics show this week, it didn’t seem to get as much attention as the company was perhaps hoping for by releasing the news before anyone had a chance to get a look in Berlin. The good news is that after playing with the device today, our first impression is that the new G Pad could be serious contender for the best Android tablet on the market. In fact, it might even give Apple a run for its money for those looking for an iPad mini Android alternative that doesn’t compromise on build quality.

The aluminum on the back gives the device an extremely high quality finish that puts it more in the iPad and HTC One build-quality category, and the 1920 x 1200,  273 ppi, Full HD WUXGA display might be the best in the mid sized tablet category. The device packs in 2GB of RAM, a 1.7GHz quad-core processor, and we didn’t have any performance issues in our hands-on with the tablet today. It comes in black and white (as pictured above), and also offers some of LG’s unique software features like QPair for connecting a smartphone to the tablet and receiving calls, messages, and more on both devices.

The real beauty of the design is that the 8.3-inch display doesn’t feel much bigger in your hand than a 7-inch tablet thanks to a nice thin bezel, and it is still easily pocketable wherever your 7-incher can fit. It’s hard to give a recommendation on the Android 4.2.2 tablet since we don’t know pricing yet, but if it’s price competitively with the Nexus 7, LG might have just made the #1 or #2 Android tablet for the year and heading into next. Hopefully we have good news to report when pricing gets announced at launch time in Q4. Read more

Google charged $14.5M for abusing Motorola FRAND patents in Microsoft case

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CNET reports that Microsoft was awarded $14.5 million from Google Motorola for the abuse of the fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) patents by Google.

A federal jury in Seattle ordered the Google-owned handset maker to pay the software giant $14.5 million in damages for breach of contract for failing to license at reasonable terms standard essential patents covering wireless and video technology used in the Xbox game console. However, the award is half the $29 million in damages Microsoft had sought.

If Google didn’t get any value from FRAND patents from Motorola, what did they get? Read more