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

Still smarting from Java suit loss, Larry Ellison calls Google CEO Larry Page evil

Photo: dailymail.co.uk

Photo: dailymail.co.uk

Larry Ellison is apparently still smarting from the court battle he lost back in May of last year when he accused Google of copyright infringement over its use of Java in Android, lost and ended up paying Google’s $4M court costs.

Oracle bought Java from Sun Microsystems, and claimed ownership of some of the code used by Google. Google argued that the small amount of replicated code was ‘fair use’ and that the rest of it was coded from scratch simply using similar approaches to Java. Oracle lost.

In an interview with CBS’s Charlie Rose, transcribed in Business Insider, Ellison accuses Page of violating Google’s company slogan, Don’t be evil. Transcript below the fold …  Read more

Leaked press shots show Sony’s upcoming 20.2MP, Carl Zeiss camera lens attachment for iPhone & Android

Sony-Camera-Lens-01

Last month a report from often reliable sources claimed that Sony was readying a new Carl Zeiss camera lens with a 20.2 MP sensor that would attach onto a smartphone and connect over WiFi or NFC. Today, SonyAlphaRumors is back with more details on the new products and this time has high-quality images of the upcoming “Lens-camera” accessory with what appear to be leaked press shots.

What you see on these images are the DSC-QX10 and DSC-QX100 lenses. Actually these are not normal lenses! They have built-in sensor, Bionz processor, Wifi/NFC wireless connection and SD card slot. These lenses have no LCD screen and no usual camera controls. You will be able to control them through your smart phone or tablet.

The report claims that Sony will be launching two models “soon”, one with a RX100MII sensor and Zeiss lens, and another that features a “10xzoom lens with 1/2,3 inch 18 megapixel CMOS sensor” (pictured in the image with the f/3,3-5.9 lens). It also says the camera lens will be available for both Android and iOS devices. 
Read more

Now you don’t even need to spend 35 bucks to start Chromecasting …

Capture5-1024x640

We thought $35 was pretty cheap for Chromecast, but if you don’t even want to lay out that much (or, more likely, can’t get your hands on one at the moment), there’s an app for that.

XDAdevelopers (via Phandroid) pointed us to CheapCast, a free app in the Play Store that enables any Android device to emulate a Chromecast stick. Install it in two devices, one of which could be an Android TV or OUYA, and you can broadcast from one to the other. Don’t, however, expect full functionality at this stage …  Read more

No such thing as bad publicity? 20 people shot by BB guns as LG’s G2 stunt goes rather wrong

When organising a publicity event for a new product, there are a few things you need to check. Book the venue, check public transport links, make sure you have enough sample products … oh, and ask people not to bring weapons with them.

The video above is in Korean, but you get the idea. More details below the fold … Read more

HTC begins new re-branding campaign with Robert Downey Jr. video teaser

Today, HTC unveiled their new “Change brand platform”, a long-term strategy that celebrates HTC’s disruptive impact on the mobile industry over its 17-year history.

Robert Downey Jr., who plays gadget superhero Tony Stark, has signed a two year contract to not only star in but also ‘shape the creative direction’ of the campaign, following such high profile celebrity creative directorial successes as Alicia Keys at Blackberry and Intel’s Will.i.am collaboration.

A teaser is above and the campaign, which will begin”putting change at the core of HTC’s brand by offering a variety of unique interpretations of the HTC acronym”. The full videos will start rolling out August 15th.

Extending the interpretation to consumers, a word randomizer app hosted on HTC.com allows people to identify the most outlandish possible interpretations of HTC, building on the variety of permutations first introduced in the ad campaign, including “Here’s TChange”.The brand platform will roll out in three phases with the initial advertising campaign highlighting HTC’s brand with a playful take on what it means to different people. The second phase will feature executions which highlight how HTC innovations—like BlinkFeed, Video Highlights and BoomSound—have changed the face of the mobile industry. Ad spots in the third phase will focus on how HTC products empower individuals to drive change in their own lives.

Is there any chance in the world that Tony Stark runs anything but stock Android? No, there is not.

Press release follows:

Read more

Google rolls out Music All Access service to nine European countries

music

Google Play’s Music All Access service – Google’s rather clumsily-named equivalent to Spotify – has now been rolled out to Europe, initially to nine countries.

The service, launched in the USA in May and later extended to Australia and New Zealand, is now available in Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom …  Read more