Google reportedly testing a new e-commerce service called Helpouts

According to a new report from TechCrunch, Google is in the midst of testing a new e-commerece service that would allow users to buy and sell services via video. The service is reportedly dubbed “Helpouts” and has been in testing within the company since June, with a public release not happening for at least another month.

The service would obviously be based heavily on Google’s Hangout video chats. The services could be started instantaneously or planned as classes. As an example, TechCrunch suggests that a Spanish tutor from Argentina could offer to train other users in the language for a fee, or that a Yoga instructor could provide classes to stay-at-home moms. Users would be able to create a Helpout profile and build a reputation over time.

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Google announces $35 Chromecast, a small HDMI stick that shifts video from mobile to TV

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Google just seemingly ‘cast’ its Google TV project to the curb.  As a much simpler version of GoogleTV, the leaked Chromecast allows you to do what you can now do on Google TV: pushing content from both Netflix and Youtube to your TV.  Unlike Airplay, the Chromecast stick allows the original device to turn off or go to sleep. It functions as a standalone streaming device, awaiting orders from an iOS device, Android device, or Chrome browser on a PC, Mac or Chromebook Pixel (strangely, other Chromebooks need not apply). 

Google has also baked in iOS support, which will allow users of both platforms to control Netflix or Youtube. You can also broadcast a tab in the Chrome Browser.

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Google Play music and movies can also ‘cast’ to the best speakers in your house as long as those are connected to your TV. Pandora is coming soon.

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It will be available from Google Play, Amazon and Best Buy as well as other retailers. We’ll have a review up as soon as possible.  Read more

Google bringing textbooks to Play Books on web, iOS, & Android w/ 80% off rentals

Google has announced that it will be rolling out a new textbook section as part of Google Play Books starting next month. Google says it has teamed up with five of the major textbook publishers to offer a “comprehensive selection of titles” and plans to offer book purchasing as well as book rentals when the new store launches. The rental option will allow users to pay only a fraction of the full cost of a book to rent it over a six month period.

Google said the new textbooks will work on the web, Android, and iOS devices, and include search, bookmarks, highlighting, notes, and a “night mode” that will allow you to read at night without disturbing others. You’ll also be able to sync your bookmarks and notes across devices when the new textbooks arrive in early August through Google Play Books.

Google announces new Google Play Games app, available starting today

Google just announced a new gaming hub for Android users that works as part of the Google Play Game services that it launched for developers earlier this year. The new Google Play Gams app will allow users to browse games, view leaderboards, and discover new games by viewing what friends from Google+ are currently playing.

Earlier this year, Google launched its Google Play game services, which now allows developers to easily integrate cloud saves, achievements, leaderboards, and multiplayer into games. Today it gave us a little update, noting that “100′s of games added” the new platform in recent months. The new Google Play Games app will essentially act as a hub for end users to view and share stats from some of these new features– like achievements and leaderboards– as highlighted in the images above from Google’s demo today.

Google also showed off a few new games arriving soon on Android with the built-in Google Play Game services, including: Prince of Persia, Riptide, and Asphalt 8.

The app, which some might view as a service similar to Game Center offered on Apple’s iOS devices, will be available on Google Play starting today and ship on the new Nexus 7.

Google announces the new 1080P Nexus 7: smaller, thinner and 50g lighter

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Everything you’ve heard is true. Hugo Barra came out on stage to introduce the new improved Nexus 7 1080P today.  As you probably already know, just about everything was updated hardware-wise. It is way smaller/thinner, yet has better specs all around.

Fun facts:

  • Dual Stereo speakers (Fraunhofer sound)
  • 50 grams lighter
  • smaller bezels
  • 2mm thinner
  • front (1.2) and rear (5MP)cameras
  • 1920×1200 display 323 pixels per inch. Highest DPI of any tablet on the market
  • 1.5GHz Snapdragon chipset os 80% faster, 4 times GPU frame-rates for gamers
  • 2GB of RAM (double)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • LTE version from AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile (no Sprint!)
  • Wireless Qi charging
  • Battery – 1 extra hour from last year 10 hours of browsing, 9 of video

16 GB is $229.99, 32GB is $269.99. The LTE version will be $349

Nvidia shows off Kepler mobile GPU for “Project Logan” with one-third the power consumption of iPad 4

Nvidia is announcing some big news this week for the future of its mobile chips with the announcement that its Kepler graphics architecture will arrive on mobile devices through its next-generation processor dubbed “Project Logan”. The company is showing off the new Project Logan mobile chip at an event today and detailed some of the new advancements in a blog post:

Project Logan’s GPU is based on our revolutionary Kepler architecture, which forms the foundation for products that a year ago began rolling out across our notebook, desktop, workstation and supercomputer lines.Our mission with Project Logan was to scale this technology down to the mobile power envelope – creating new configurations that we could both deploy in the Logan mobile SOC and license to others, as announced last month. We took Kepler’s efficient processing cores and added a new low-power inter-unit interconnect and extensive new optimizations, both specifically for mobile.

Nvidia claims that Project Logan with Kepler will use around one-third the power consumption of devices like the fourth-gen iPad 4 for the same renders, which would presumably be a big boost for battery life. It also described some of the other benefits of Kepler outside of graphics, including: major improvements to computational imaging, computer vision, augmented reality and speech recognition.

To show off what Kepler can do with Project Logan, Nvidia brings back its “Ira” demo above showing one of the most realistic models of the human face ever created generated entirely in real-time. This time around the demo isn’t running on a GeForce Titan graphics card, it’s on a mobile device running the next-generation Project Logan chip with Kepler.

Another impressive demo called “Island” is below: Read more