Chrome OS updated with fullscreen apps, monitor scaling, wallpaper syncing and more

Photo: dpcdn.pl

Photo: dpcdn.pl

The stable version of Chrome OS has been updated to offer a new “immersive mode”, allowing apps to be used in fullscreen form with toolbar and shelf both hidden. A fullscreen button launches immersive mode, and hovering near the top reveals the toolbar.

The new version also monitor scaling, allowing users to scale the UI elements to suit their screen resolution, and a range of other user-interface improvements …  Read more

Google improves definitions in Search w/ sample sentences, synonyms, translations & spoken responses

fortuitous (1)

Google noted today on its Google+ page that it has updated search on both the desktop and mobile with new and improved definitions. Google search would previously let users ask for a definition by simply asking, for example, “What’s the definition of fortuitous?” The most recent update makes those definitions even more useful with the addition of sample sentences, synonyms, origin, translations and more:

Now you’ll also see sample sentences that highlight how the word is used, as well as synonyms…Give it a whirl the next time you’re reading an article online and you stumble across an unfamiliar word. In addition, try translating words to one of 60+ languages directly from the box. When you select a language, future definition searches will consistently provide a translation to that same language.

In addition to those features, Google will also offer spoken responses when tapping the microphone icon next to the definition: Read more

Americans watch 48 billion online videos a month, 17B of them on Google sites, claims comScore

comscore-vid

Figures released by comScore today make the surprising claim that 187 million Americans watched a total of 58 billion online videos between them last month, excluding ads. 17.7B of them were on Google sites, presumably mostly YouTube.

To clarify, comScore counts a video view as watching ‘at least three seconds’. So if you click on a link posted by a friend on Facebook, watch a few seconds, decide it’s boring and close the window, that gets counted. But it still seems like a very high number to us …  Read more

Google’s Street View fun continues with virtual visits to zoos & animal parks

panda

Google’s expanded Street View program today added coverage of a range of zoos and animal parks in North America, South America, Canada, Mexico, China, Germany, Spain, France, Belgium and the UK. This includes the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China, home to more than 30 percent of the world’s Giant Pandas, reports the Google Maps blog.

If you enjoy watching wildlife, but find yourself stuck in the urban jungle, never fear. You can now use Google Maps and Street View to preview the must-see spots at zoos around the world before heading there in person, or take a virtual trip to some of the most famous zoos and animal parks, right from your living room.

The development adds to a diverse range of fascinating Street View tours offered by Google in recent times …  Read more

Google ready to raise its TV profile by spending $1B+ on NFL streaming deal?

hdr__NFL_SUNDAY_TICKET_2013_video

AllThingsD reports that Google may be in discussions with NFL to buy the rights to the Sunday Ticket package when DirectTV’s contract runs out at the end of the 2014 season.

Today, according to sources, Google CEO Larry Page, along with YouTube content boss Robert Kyncl, met with a delegation from the NFL led by commissioner Roger Goodell. And the Sunday Ticket package was among the topics of discussion, according to people familiar with the meeting …  Read more

From Robocop to Roboshopper: the Google Glass apps keep coming

robocop

Google Glass is generating a lot of interesting ideas lately. A couple of new ones that caught my eye are an app from Mutualink designed to assist emergency services personnel, and a Glass version of Amazon’s Price Check app.

Mutualink’s app, spotted on TechCrunch, is designed to enable emergency responders to get access to key documents on-scene. Examples they give are a firefighter being able to see layout plans before entering a burning building, a police officer being able to tap into live CCTV feeds from the surrounding area and medical personnel being able to access medical records and transmit video footage back to a hospital for review by specialists …  Read more

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