Google sending invites for July 24 event with Android/Chrome boss Sundar Pichai

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Google has just sent out invites for an event next Wednesday, July 24th. The invite says that it is a “breakfast with Sundar Pichai,” which means that the focus of the event will probably be on Android and/or Chrome, which are the two departments that Pichai oversees. For those that can’t make the breakfast or were not invited, it will be live streamed on YouTube as well.

More than likely the event has something to do with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, which is expected to be a very minor update over 4.2. It’s also possible that it’s the Nexus 7 successor, for which we just saw leaked pricing. We’ll be sure to let you know what Google has to say next week.

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Google follows through on proposal to kill pirate sites by cutting off their cash

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The Guardian reports that Google is acting on the proposal it made back in May to hit pirate sites where it hurts – their wallets – by depriving them of ad revenue.

Websites offering pirated content will be blocked from offering adverts from Google and other big web advertisers, in a US scheme intended to strangle illicit revenues.

The initiative will mean copyright holders from the music, film and other creative industries will be able to alert the big ad networks if their ads are appearing on sites offering links to pirated content or counterfeit goods …  Read more

As expected, EU rejects Google’s proposed changes to anti-trust complaint in search

European Union Competition Commissioner Almunia addresses a news conference on state aid rules for airports and airlines in Brussels

European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia (photo: Reuters)

Google’s proposed changes to its search results don’t go far enough to address claims that it is using its dominant position to freeze out competitors, says the EU (via Reuters).

The decision comes as no surprise after EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said back in May that he was “almost 100 percent certain” to reject the proposals, in which Google’s key offers were to clearly separate organic results from sponsored links and to provide links to at least three rival search services in its results …  Read more

Chrome Beta for Android updated with speed improvements, WebRTC support

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Google has updated its Chrome Beta Android app today with several small new features. First, the update adds support for WebRTC, which is a web feature that allows for real-time voice and video communications. WebRTC is useful for things like voice calling, video chatting, and peer-to-peer file sharing. The update also improves page loading performance and offers up a handful of bug fixes and general stability improvements.

Full changelog:

  • Support for WebRTC, a web platform feature to enable real-time voice and video communications
  • Faster page loads
  • Lots of under the hood changes for stability and performance

Download it on the Play Store now.

Google offering free Play songs by Nirvana, Band of Horses, The Shins, and more to celebrate 25 years of SubPop

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Google is offering a handful of MP3 tracks for free via the Play Store to celebrate the Sub Pop Silver Jubilee festival in Seattle. The sale offers free songs such as “About a Girl” by Nirvana, “The Funeral” by Band of Horses, “New Slang” by The Shins, and much more.

Mega-indie record label Sub Pop marks its 25th anniversary with a Silver Jubilee festival July 13 in Seattle, and there’s plenty to celebrate. From introducing Nirvana and grunge to popularizing modern indie rock, folk, electropop and more, Sub Pop has stayed nimbly ahead of trends and launched countless great bands including Sunny Day Real Estate, Mudhoney,The Shins, Fleet Foxes and more. They’ve also maintained their experimental edge, releasing records by such outliers as LA noise punks No Age, chillwave success Washed Out and outré hip-hop unit Shabazz Palaces. Here’s to 25 years of Subterranean Pop, “Loser” t-shirts and avowed “world domination”—and to many more to come.

You can check out the deal on the Play Store now. Read more

Google Play web interface redesigned with look similar to Android app

Google has just updated the design of its desktop Play Store. The interface is very similar  to what Android users have come to know on their mobile device’s Play Store, which was updated earlier this year, as well. The interface is focused heavily on images now, which is evident by the much larger screenshots supplied for apps.

Along the side of the site are quick links to Apps, Movies and TV, Music, Books, Magazines, and Devices. Clicking them will take you to a page specific about whatever topic you selected. The devices section is centered around Nexus and Google Play edition devices, as well as Chromebooks, just as you’d expect. The other sections show things like sales, top sellers, apps for certain people, and more.

The redesign was originally rumored last month, but only now is it available to everyone. Head over to play.google.com to check it out for yourself and look below for more screenshots… Read more

Microsoft pays its first ‘bug bounty’ … to a Google engineer

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Microsoft has just paid its first ‘bug bounty’ – a payment for discovering and reporting a critical vulnerability in Windows 8.1 – to a Google engineer, for a bug found in the preview version of Internet Explorer 11.

The security community has responded enthusiastically to our new bounty programs, submitting over a dozen issues for us to investigate in just the first two weeks since the programs opened.  I personally notified the very first bounty recipient via email today that his submission for the Internet Explorer 11 Preview Bug Bounty is confirmed and validated. (Translation: He’s getting paid.)

Microsoft hasn’t yet named the engineer in its post on the BlueHat Blog, but PCWorld names him as Google’s Ivan Fratric …  Read more

New Switch app lets you seamlessly change between Sense 5 and Google Experience Android on your HTC One

Now that there are two variants of the HTC One floating around, one with Sense 5 and one with near-stock Android, customers have a decision to make. Do you want the unsubsidized, $650 Google Play Edition model or the subsidized model variant with Sense 5? A new app from the longtime Android developer Paul O’Brien aims to get rid of that problem by making it easy to switch between the two software builds on either variant.

The video above demonstrates the Switch app that does just that – lets you switch between Sense 5 and stock Android. It’s incredibly simple. All you have to do is launch the Switch app and choose which experience to boot into. Because the apps and data are stored in a central environment, all your data is accessible in both ROMs. Read more

AT&T agrees to acquire Leap Wireless (Cricket) at $15/share to expand spectrum

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AT&T has announced that it has come to agreement to acquire U.S. carrier Leap Wireless (which operates the Cricket brand) for $15 per share. The acquisition will cover all of Leap Wireless’s assets, expanding AT&T’s coverage to Leap’s 5 million subscribers. This move enhances AT&T’s spectrum, retail store count, employee number, and more, so it is likely a positive move for its wireless customers. It’s possible that this announcement is related to the upcoming press event that AT&T has scheduled for July 16th.

Press release below:

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2013: The year of the personalized, colorful, mid-tier smartphone

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Mockup: Slashgear

Choosing a phone is pretty simple if you’re the kind of person who wants the latest & greatest handset and has the budget to pay for it. Even if you’re not sure what platform you want, you’re essentially choosing between a handful of flagship products and are currently likely to walk away with an iPhone 5, Samsung S4 or HTC One.

There isn’t too much head-scratching at the bottom end of the market either: buyers there don’t care about the handset, and take whatever freebie their carrier pushes at them.

But the mid-market is where life gets complicated. You care enough about your handset to want something decent, both in specs and design, but you don’t want to take out a mortgage to buy it. It’s this market that is going to get incredibly colorful this fall …  Read more