Sprint/Boost/Virgin announces Waterproof Kyocera, Galaxy S3 and new Wallet

Sprint has made a few announcements today for new devices and services coming to its customers on its Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA prepaid brands. The company announced today that the Samsung Galaxy S III will be landing on both Boost and Virgin beginning in June. Both devices will be available on the two carriers’ no contract plans but Sprint didn’t make any details available for pricing on the device yet.

Also announced today is the waterproof Kyocera Hydro Edge smartphone, a 4.1-inch Android 4.1 device that’s capable of submersion up to 3.28 feet. No exact launch date or pricing as of yet, but Sprint will be making it available through both its Sprint and Boost Mobile brands later this summer.

Sprint also announced today that it is launching a new ‘Boost Mobile Wallet’ service powered by technology from mobile payments company Wipit. The service is available for Boost customers starting today through a free app on Google Play, but for now is only available to users in Los Angeles, San Diego and parts of New Jersey.

The app allows users to load cash into their wallet at Boost Mobile stores, send money to 135 countries, and Sprint will also be giving out reloadable Visa prepaid cards for ATM access: Read more

Google Checkout is checking out

Yet another Google service bites the dust.  This one’s not as cut and dry as Google Reader, for instance, because some of the Google Checkout functionality will transfer to Google Wallet.

Merchants can continue to accept payments using Google Checkout until November 20, 2013.

  • If you don’t have your own payment processing, you will need to transition to a different solution within six months. To make things easier, we’ve partnered with BraintreeShopify and Freshbooks to offer you discounted migration options.

  • If you are a U.S. merchant that does have payment processing, you can apply for Google Wallet Instant Buy, which offers a fast buying experience to Google Wallet shoppers.

At some point, Google’s brand is going to get tarnished by these closures. How am I going to feel comfortable getting behind a new Google product if I know there’s a more than 50% chance it will close?  Read more

Google confirms voice calling will return to Gmail, says Hangouts is “the future of Google Voice”

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Some of you might have noticed that updating to Google’s new unified Hangouts chat service in Gmail meant giving up the Google Voice calling capabilities that were previously available to users in the US and Canada. We suspected Google had plans to bring the feature back and users currently have the option of reverting back to the old Gmail chat in order to access the feature. Now Google has responded to concerns by promising that “Hangouts is designed to be the future of Google Voice, and making/receiving phone calls” will return in a future update.

Google’s Nikhyl Singhal had this to say about Voice integration in Hangouts: Read more

Google ‘welcomes international tax reform debate’, says Eric Schmidt

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Update: A report on Yahoo! Finance claims that Google paid just 2.6 percent tax on its $6b of overseas profits in 2012.

Google, one of a number of companies to come under fire for alleged tax-avoidance practices, says that it welcomes debate on how international tax treaties can be reformed so that multinational companies pay the right amount of tax in each of the countries in which they operate.

In a comment piece on the Observer UK newspaper website, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt says he understands the controversy.

At a time when families are having to tighten their belts and funding for vital public services is under pressure, corporate taxation is rightly a hot topic. And as a company that has always aspired to do the right thing, we understand why Google is at the centre of that debate. In the interests of moving the argument forward – away from accusation and toward action – here are three principles we hope most people can agree upon … Read more

Google Play, Verizon launch could boost Samsung Galaxy S4 sales past already high expectations

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung has proven almost effortlessly that the 5-inch smartphone has its place in the hands of the masses as it is on track to selling 10 million handsets in its first month, The Korea Times reports.

The company has plenty of room for sales to exponentially grow upward, possibly past their own already high expectations, as the smartphone that has taken the Android world by storm has yet to actually launch on Verizon in the States.

Verizon seems readily positioned to launch the Galaxy S4 as it announced earlier this week that it plans to sell the Samsung smartphone a week sooner than expected.

Samsung’s co-CEO Shin John-Kyun says the company expects the Galaxy S4 to be the fastest selling smartphone in the company’s history.

“We are confident that we will pass more than 10 million sales of the S4 next week. It is selling much faster than the previous model S3,” Samsung Electronics co-CEO Shin Jong-Kyun told reporters at an industry forum in Seoul, Thursday.

We got our hands on the Galaxy S4 last month for a review and gave it flying colors. Read more

Twitter launches official app for Google Glass with focus on photo sharing, Google announces SDK

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Twitter today officially launched its own official client for Google Glass. The app has a focus on sharing photos, but also allows you to keep up with your mentions and DMs.

With Twitter for Google Glass, you can share photos to Twitter. The Tweet will automatically include the text, “Just shared a photo #throughglass.”

In addition to sharing photos, you can also keep up with the people you follow on Twitter through notifications — for mentions, DMs and Tweets from users for whom you’ve turned on notifications. As always, you can reply to, retweet or favorite these Tweets.

Those with Google Glass can grab the free app here.

In addition, Google today announced an official SDK for Google Glass. The software development kit will allow offline apps to be created for the device. The company also shared that Facebook, Tumblr, CNN, and Elle apps are on the way.

Read more

Google Maps coming to iPad this summer, updated with new design, improved rating system, in-app offers, much more

We showed you significant updates to Google Maps which leaked early this morning, and Google just announced updates to Maps at Google I/O.

Google also announced that its Maps API is used by over 1 million active sites and accessed by 1 billion unique visitors weekly.

Maps will now feature a 5 star rating system for locations across all platforms. Users can now swipe across results in a simple, gesture user interface. Zagat reviews are now more prominent with badges and cards simplifying its appearance. These cards now include a new Offers experience with partners including Starbucks.

Google Maps for Mobile also includes improvements to rerouting in transit and explore features. Google Maps for iPad was demoed during the keynote, which we expect to see this summer, and all of the updates will come to the iPhone and Android as well.

Maps on the desktop now includes a new fly-in view for supported locations, which is like a  street view for specific landmark interiors. Public transit information on the desktop is now comparable side-by-side with standard transit and now features a new schedule view.

Read more

New Hangouts coming to Gmail (optionally) starting today

Google today announced today that Google’s new hangouts service/experience  would be available in Gmail:

What does this mean for your Gmail? You now have the option to switch from the current version of chat to Hangouts. Simply click “Try it out” next to your chat list to switch to Hangouts and give your chat an instant facelift (literally!). You’ll now see the profile photos in the order of your most recent conversations. With Hangouts, you’ll also be able to quickly send messages, have video calls with up to ten people at once, and share photos. You can start a conversation with just one friend or even a whole group.