Google Wallet for iOS updated with single sign-on, card adding via camera

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Google has updated its Google Wallet application for the iPhone with a few notable enhancements. First, like it has added to its other apps on iOS as of late, Google now allows single sign-on for Wallet. This means that if you are signed in via Google to YouTube, Gmail, Adsense, or other compatible Google apps, you can be automatically logged in to the Wallet app. More interestingly, you can now use your iPhone’s camera to capture the data from your debit card or credit card to connect it to the app. Google added that feature to the Android app last month. Google Wallet recently launched a physical card program for Wallet. The update is free in the App Store.

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Google’s Andy Rubin is making the jump from Androids to robots

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Google is looking to make its mark on the world of robotics, and Android co-founder Andy Rubin is just the man to do it, reports the New York Times. Rubin helped start the company behind the Android operating system before being bought out by Google, and now the company has tapped him as the lead engineer in its move into robotics.

Intelligent machines aren’t a big new idea at Google—the company has been working on self-driving cars for years now—but some say that the search and advertising company’s foray into robotics R&D could point to an attempt to one-up Amazon’s recently announced army fleet of flying delivery drones. As we pointed out last year, Google has been developing a same-day package delivery system as one possible use for self-driving vehicles. Rubin has said that he sees opportunities for improvement in a variety of markets through the use of robots.

Whatever these machines end up being used for, Rubin is a solid choice to lead the development. Before he helped create Android, Rubin was a robotics engineer with experience in both hardware and software. While the decision to put Rubin in charge seems like an obvious one, Google has not yet committed its robotics lab to any specific division of the company. It’s likely that Rubin will work independently of the team in charge of autonomous vehicle technology.

As Rubin builds his team of engineers and Google searches for the perfect place within the company to foster its budding interest in robotics, one thing is certain: with the company’s resources and Rubin’s leadership, Google is poised to create more than a few remarkable improvements in countless industries.

Google Glass can now officially play music – app available in MyGlass

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Google has now added the Play Music app to the MyGlass page, allowing Glass users to use voice controls to play music through the device. The announcement was made by Google engineer Stephen Lau on Google+.

The Play Music APK was first spotted in the Glass XE11 update last month, and users were able to side load the app, but it was not officially listed by Google at the time. Now it is. As we explained then:

Once the app is loaded, simply say “OK Glass, listen to,” then the name of a song, artist, album, or playlist. A card will then pop up with results and allow you to specify what to play. A new card also stays pinned for further music control, including Play, Stop, Skip, Rewind, and volume control …  Read more

Motorola’s site down after heavy Cyber Monday onslaught

Update: Back up but not very speedy. They will continue the sale for an additional day

Google-owned website down because of heavy traffic likely due to their Moto X Cyber Monday deal.

Interestingly, it appears to be a front end issue because http://www.isup.me/motorola.com.

Google will battle Amazon in Drone retail delivery war circa 2015-2020

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shocked Charlie Rose on Cyber Monday Eve (great timing for the PR-savvy retail giant) by showing him the future of delivery services – autonomous drones that will pick up and deliver wares from fulfillment centers. From which we can conclude that Charlie Rose doesn’t read 9to5Google, where the concept is old news.

We mentioned way back in February that Google was already working on drone delivery services:

Along with Glass, Google will have an opportunity to demonstrate other upcoming and Google X projects like driverless cars and mini-drone delivery systems at its stores.

We reference it again when the company launched the trial of its ‘Google Shopping Express’ same-day delivery service to Bay Area residents:

Google, in the long run, plans to use self-driving cars and flying drones as means of delivery.

And again:

9to5Google also heard this service was coming, and we have some more somewhat wild information on the program. Google, in the long run, plans to use self-driving cars and flying drones as means of delivery. We also heard Google’s delivery project came from the Google X incubator headed by cofounder Sergey Brin.

Clearly there are a lot of hurdles to jump on the way to this vision (privacy, theft, accidents, visual pollution, etc, etc). but it’s equally clear that these two Silicon Valley heavy-weights are prepping to battle in the skies above.

Google might have gotten there first, but Amazon definitely wins the PR battle so far: a short concept video for a service which doesn’t yet exist, and which even optimistically it doesn’t expect to launch for a couple of years, got everyone talking about them. Including Charlie Rose. Video below …

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Samsung to spend $14B on advertising & marketing this year, perhaps unwisely, suggests Reuters

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Reuters reports that Samsung is expected to spend a massive $14B on advertising & marketing this year, accelerating a trend seen earlier in the U.S., but questions both the value and the strategy.

Samsung spends a bigger chunk of its annual revenue on advertising and promotion than any other of the world’s top-20 companies by sales – 5.4 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data. Apple spends just 0.6 percent, and General Motors 3.5 percent […]

But, while Samsung has become the world’s biggest advertiser, spending $4.3 billion on ads alone last year, its global brand value of $39.6 billion is less than half that of Apple, which spent only $1 billion on advertising, according to Interbrand and ad researcher Ad Age.

Brand experts say the spend is probably driven by Samsung’s desire to change its image from a fast-follower – a company that spots new ideas from competitors and quickly launches its own version – to an innovator …  Read more

One-step CyanogenMod Installer removed from Play Store due to lack of revert option

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The one-step installer for CyanogenMod – an open-source, modified form of Android that adds functionality to an Android handset – has been pulled from the Play Store by Google, on the ground that it does not offer a simple ‘revert’ option as required by the store’s terms & conditions. Google argues this means it violates the warranty terms of handsets.

Today, we were contacted by the Google Play Support team to say that our CyanogenMod Installer application is in violation of Google Play’s developer terms.

They advised us to voluntarily remove the application, or they would be forced to remove it administratively. We have complied with their wishes while we wait for a more favorable resolution.

CynanogenMod allows you to replace the manufacturer or carrier firmware with a custom version that allows you to over-clock the CPU and do a whole bunch of things you might not be able to do otherwise, like wifi & Bluetooth tethering, and playing music in the FLAC lossless format …  Read more

Kindle Fire HDX 7 takes 1st place in tablet display shoot-out, beating iPad & Nexus

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DisplayMate, a company specializing in scientific display testing and calibration, gave top marks to the Kindle Fire HDX 7, saying its advanced display technology was “almost magical.” The Nexus 7 took 2nd place, with the Retina iPad Mini “a distant third.”

The Kindle Fire HDX 7 is Amazon’s 3rd generation LCD Tablet, and their displays have been improving by leaps and bounds since we first tested them back in 2011. Their Full Size Flagship Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is the best performing Tablet display that we have ever tested, due in part to using the highest performance LCDs with Low Temperature Poly Silicon LTPS. But the Mini Kindle Fire HDX 7 that we test here is also incredibly innovative because it is the first Tablet display to use super high technology Quantum Dots, which produce highly saturated primary colors for LCDs that are similar to those produced by OLED displays. They not only significantly increase the Color Gamut to 100 percent but also improve the power efficiency at the same time. It’s a very impressive display with very impressive technology.

Quantum Dots are almost magical because they use Quantum Physics to produce highly saturated primary colors for LCDs that are similar to those produced by OLED displays […] Quantum Dots are going to revolutionize LCDs for the next 5+ years …  Read more

Scroogled, Chromebook edition: Microsoft’s attack ads are somehow getting worse

The holidays have hit Microsoft land and along with your Scroogled paraphernalia, you now have the Chromebook attack ad. Microsoft plays up the “no offline access” card even though many of Chrome’s most useful features can be used without access to the internet. Anyway, you’ve got the Pawn Star dude saying you can’t get to LA on the cost of a trade in Chromebook. Considering that new ones typically cost between $200$300 new, that part might actually be the truth.

If these ads rub you the wrong way, you aren’t alone. Microsoft isn’t showing much taste in this campaign.  Read more