Google Doodle celebrating Fourth of July takes you on a virtual tour of America

Keeping with the tradition upheld since 2000, Google has updated its classic logo to celebrate the Fourth of July in the United States. The Google Doodle takes you on a tour of the United States with a family and a dog. The animated image takes you to a variety of classic U.S. places, including an ice cream shop, the Golden Gate Bridge, a baseball stadium, Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty, and more. The Doodle ends with the family and dog all watching fireworks together. Click it once more, and the image redirects to a simple search for “When is Independence day?”

‘Murica. Read more

Google accused of “coercive sales tactics” over Google TV – unnamed manufacturer

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Google has been accused of using “coercive sales tactics” in an attempt to pressure Smart TV manufacturers to adopt its own Google TV platform for YouTube rather than HTML5 based approaches, reports Korean news site ETNews.

Smart TV operators who opted for open-source HTML5 in order to avoid dependance on Google, have bumped into an obstacle – YouTube […] According to industry insiders, Google has demanded HTML5-based Smart TV operators should place the YouTube app on the main homepage and pass browser conformity tests [which] take up to several months.

An industry insider said “Telling us where the YouTube app should be placed is an act of coercive sales tactics.”
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Chromium-based Opera browser officially released

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Back in May, Opera released a ‘sneak peak’ of its latest browser, Opera 15. The big selling point behind it was the engine under the hood. For the first time ever, the browser was powered by Chromium rather than Opera’s classic Presto engine. Today, the company has officially released the browser for both Mac and Windows in its final state to the public.

The new Opera for Windows and Mac runs on a Chromium engine, so you can access all your websites in a blink of an eye and have a smoother experience when you get there, thanks to improved site compatibility.

The latest version of  Opera includes a host of new features in addition to the new Chromium engine. For one, the Speed Dial homepage has been refreshed with the ability to create folders and more. A new ‘Stash’ feature lets you collect snapshots of saved webpages in one place and go back and reference them if needed. The new Discover feature automatically shows you the top articles from locations and categories you choose. Finally, Opera says that the browser should perform better on slow connections thanks to the new ‘Off-road’ mode. Read more

Android’s European market share breaks 70 percent; Samsung takes half of smartphone sales

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New data from Kantar (via TechCrunch) shows that Android’s share in the five key European markets of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain hit 70.4 percent, climbing 9.1 points in the past year. The figures also showed that Samsung accounted for almost one in two smartphones sold in the same markets.

The latest smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, for the three months to May 2013, show that almost half of all smartphones sold in Europe are a Samsung. This uplift has helped Android to a 70.4% share across the five major European markets, up from 61.3% a year ago, and far higher than the 17.8% and 6.8% shares for iOS and Windows respectively …  Read more

Google’s white space wireless database approved by FCC

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The FCC has approved Google’s “white space” database operation. This will allow for the company to operate a wireless broadband network with unlicensed TV broadcast spectrum. There are currently 10 other companies working on similar networks, but Google is the latest to complete the Federal Communications Commission’s 45-day testing period. The database will keep track of the TV broadcast frequencies in use so that other wireless broadband devices can take advantage of what’s not being used.

“If a government communications system does not require spectrum at specific times, that spectrum can be freed up for commercial purposes during those times. With dynamic sharing, multiple users, including federal, non-federal and commercial entities, can all access available bands of radio spectrum,” Google wrote.

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A first look at Google’s planned new London HQ

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AHMM, Google’s London architects, have submitted plans for Google’s proposed new $1.6b London HQ, to be built alongside St Pancras International station which serves as the Eurostar terminus for high-speed rail services to Paris, Brussels and Lille. Google bought the 2.4-acre plot back in January.

The artist impressions of the building look surprisingly conservative given the client and a city that has approved some pretty funky buildings, among them the Gherkin and the Shard, though AHMM’s description of the vision for the building does make it sound more interesting than it appears.

Google’s new workplace sits upon a retail plinth punctuated by three generous light filled volumes. These entrance halls serve up and into a looped three dimensional promenade that wraps its way along, around, through and up the building’s six to ten office floors, connecting cycling ramps, cores, workplaces, major shared amenities and a large roof garden in an easy and enjoyable journey that encourages encounter.

More photos below …  Read more

Google developing gaming console, wristwatch, TV products as it eyes hardware competition from Apple

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The Wall Street Journal has issued a large report today that details several new hardware products that Google has in the pipeline. According to the report, Google’s latest hardware efforts are being developed in order to match rumored upcoming hardware offerings from Apple (like new entries into the TV and wearable computing spaces). Some future Google hardware, according to the report, includes:

Also in the cards is a next-generation of the Android OS that is designed to appeal to low-cost devices for emerging markets. As for Apple, the Cupertino-based company is shipping a redesigned iOS 7 this fall and is also rumored to be working on a lower-cost iPhone. The WSJ report also notes that this new version of Android could appear in new devices like notebook computers and home appliances such as refrigerators. Google is said to also be working on various other hardware, though this will be separate from the Google-owned Motorola Mobility.

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‘Google has a very active R&D programme with regard to electric vehicle technology’

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From Electrek,net:

Interesting bit from a BBC Interview of Lord Drayson of Drayson Racing who had just set a record of over 200MPH in his lightweight electric car. In discussing a conversation with Google Chairman Eric Schmidt ahead of the record breaking run, Drayson said:

“Google has a very active R&D programme with regard to electric vehicle technology so it’s great that one of the world’s leading technology companies came to our event today,” Lord Drayson added.

Will Google be giving Tesla a run for its money or is the former Parliament member confusing self driving car and mapping technology with that of electric vehicles? It would seem silly at this point to count Google out of any industry but we’re thinking there probably won’t be too many Electric Vehicles coming of of the X Labs.  Except maybe this one:

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The ins and outs of Google, infographics on Google buying and then killing

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It’s no secret that Google has a tendency to buy a lot of companies and it is now getting a reputation for shutting a lot of products down. In fact, we’re just a few days away from its biggest closure to date in Google Reader. iGoogle, the customizable Google homepage, is also set to shut down this November. Earlier this year, the company closed up Google Talk and replaced it with Hangouts. Google has always said, however, that it “celebrates its failures,” and there have sure been a lot of them. Marketing company WordStream has put together an infographic breaking down all the services Google has closed up, including the dates they were shut down…then be sure to check the new companies Google has been buying up below… Read more

3 million HD videos at the same time – the capacity of a new Google-backed fiber link in Asia

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Google is one of the consortium members behind a new 28Tbps undersea fiber link connecting China, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore and Brunei with Japan – where it connects to the existing transpacific fiber to the U.S. The total length of the link is 5,530 miles.

The six fiber pairs have a combined capacity equivalent to simultaneously streaming three million HD videos. That’s quite a lot of bandwidth.

While most of the investors are local telecoms companies – China Telecom, China Mobile, Hong Kong’s Donghwa Telecom, Globe in the Philippines, SingTel, and TOT in Thailand – Google has its own reasons for wanting the link …  Read more

Here’s a really cool Google Maps development that Google made sound dull

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On the same day that Google updated all its mapping products, it also demonstrated the gentle art of making a really cool piece of new technology appear deathly dull.

Today we’re announcing a new way for developers to visualize and interact with data hosted in Maps Engine: DynamicMapsEngineLayer. This class performs client-side rendering of vector data, allowing the developer to dynamically restyle the vector layer in response to user interactions like hover and click.

Sure, the blog entry is aimed at software developers, so can be forgiven its language, but the example they use to promote the feature seems more suited to a dusty geography textbook than an illustration of something that could really transform the way we use Google Maps. What it actually means is that you can mouse-over a map to really quickly and easily explore anything from tourist info to property ownership. Read on for more …

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Google overtakes Apple as world’s most valuable tech company – by ‘underlying value’ measure

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While Apple remains the most valuable tech company in the world, it retains that status thanks to its large pile of cash – $145b worth. Discount that, notes the Wall Street Journal, and its underlying value – its market cap minus the cash – is $223b, leaving it now behind Google with $241b on the same measure …  Read more