EU Commission asks for feedback on Google’s proposals in ongoing antirust investigation

32-b5d6bbdc04Earlier this month we heard that Google had handed in a formal offer of concessions to the  European Union Competition Commissioner in the ongoing antirust investigation into whether some of Google’s practices with its search and ad businesses create unfair competition and abuse the company’s dominance. At the time we didn’t get to see what the settlement proposal actually included, but today the commission issued a press release asking for feedback on the proposed commitments and detailing some of the proposals Google submitted:

Google has made proposals to try to address the Commission’s four competition concerns. Interested parties can now submit their comments within one month. The Commission will take them into account in its analysis of Google’s commitment proposals. If the Commission concludes that they address its four competition concerns, it may decide to make them legally binding on Google.

Among the most interesting commitments submitted by Google: For 5 years Google has agreed to “label promoted links to its own specialised search services”, as well as allow websites the ability to opt out from having specific pieces of content indexed by Google. Google would also no longer require publishers to utilize online search advertisements through sourced only through it.

A breakdown of Google’s proposals is below and the full version of its commitments can be found on the DG Competition’s website hereRead more

Galaxy S4 announcement generated Apple-like rush to trade-in older models

impact reported that Samsung’s announcement of the Galaxy S4 generated a 127 percent increase in valuation requests on older Samsung phones, and a 29 percent increase in trade-ins. The firm, which monitors over 40 recycling stores in the UK, said that these kind of numbers had only ever been seen before following iPhone announcements. Trade-in values from a range of sites after the break … Read more

Amazon reportedly plans to get into the set-top-box game this fall

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Following in the footsteps of Apple and Google attempts at the set-top-box market, Amazon is planning to release a set-top-box, according to Bloomberg

They say the box will plug into TVs and give users access to Amazon’s expanding video offerings. Those include its a la carte Video on Demand store, which features newer films and TV shows, and its Instant Video service, which is free for subscribers to the Amazon Prime two-day shipping package. The Amazon set-top box will compete with similar products like the Roku, Apple TV and the Boxee Cloud DVR, along with more versatile devices like the Playstation 3 and the Xbox. An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment.

The device is reportedly being developed in Amazon’s Cupertino based labs and could launch this fall. The project is reportedly being spearheaded by a former Apple and Cisco employee:

The project is being run by Malachy Moynihan, a former vice president of emerging video products at Cisco (CSCO) who worked on the networking company’s various consumer video initiatives. Moynihan also spent nine years at Apple (AAPL) during the 1980s and 1990s.

Perhaps this future product is the reason that Apple and Amazon have no deal for Amazon content streaming on the Apple TV.

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Google acquires natural language engine Wavii for over $30M (Update: Wavii closed)

Update: Following Google’s acquisition, Wavii has shut down its service and pulled its iOS app.

Google has purchased natural language processing engine Wavii for more than $30 million, according to TechCrunch.

The acquisition has several similarities to Yahoo’s recent purchase of Summly, which Yahoo integrated into its iOS app just yesterday, as both start-ups focused on parsing text from content and delivering summarized snippets of information.

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What to expect from IFA 2013: Samsung, Philips, and others prep new product launches for Sept.

We are pleased to have the opportunity to attend the annual IFA Global Press Conference this year. Taking place in Sardinia, Italy, over 300 journalists from 55 countries have been invited to learn about exactly what’s in store for one of the world’s biggest consumer electronics trade shows this summer in Berlin. We all know IFA has become one of the premiere destinations for tech companies to introduce and show off Samsung-Galaxy-S4-IFA-GPC-2013new and upcoming products each summer, so we were excited to learn what the show has planned for 2013.

As for Android products, Samsung was showing off its line of Smart washing machines and dryers that can be controlled via its Android devices. A new update, we’re told, will be rolling out for the connected white goods in the coming months that will allow full control over the majority of functions through a cellular connection. Currently these features of the app are limited to devices connected to the same home network as the appliance.

Samsung also had its just released flagship Galaxy S4 on show and we didn’t hesitate to get some extra hands-on time with the device before posting our full review.

Although Google TV didn’t seem to really be on the radar when it came to trends in the TV industry– Samsung, and talks from analysts such as NPD’s DisplaySearch, focused mainly on 4K and OLED trends — wearable technologies was a big topic of conversation throughout presentations and panels at IFA’s GPC this week. Not surprisingly, Google Glass was one of the most talked about wearable technology trends, and wearables are expected to be an even bigger focus at IFA 2013 this summer thanks to Glass.

Google-Glass-conceptMuch of the talks around future trends in tech centred on what Google is doing in this space, and of course the industry leaders from most of the mobile related presentations discussed the potential for Glass and other wearable form factors, such as watches, to have an impact on the mobile device industry in the coming year.

Good news for potential product announcements at IFA 2013 this summer, not only is IFA expecting growth among both trade visitors and exhibitors, most companies on hand this week, including Samsung, Kobo, Philips and more, confirmed new products will be on show in early September in Berlin. Philips is planning a new generation of app-enabled accessories, while Samsung will have new sizes of its Ultra HD TVs and more mobile related products.

We plan to be on hand at IFA 2013 in Berlin when it kicks off the first week of September, so stay tuned to 9to5Google for the latest product announcements.


Google Now voice search, cards could be coming to the web



Google appears to be readying a Google Now web interface for the company’s Siri-like voice search with Google’s homepage as the intended destination.

It’s no surprise that Google would bring its voice search to the web, as it already offers the service on Android and plans to bring it to iOS (Google Search for iOS currently offers real-time voice search but doesn’t support Google Now cards), and tends to have a cross-platform approach to its services as opposed to Apple’s ownership approach to its services.

Sure, Apple does have limited iCloud functionality on Microsoft’s Windows operating system and allows users to manage iCloud from a nicely designed web interface, but Apple only offers Siri on the iPhone 4S and 5, as well as the iPad mini, iPad 3 and 4, and latest iPod touch, though the upcoming release of OS X 10.9 could bring Siri to the Mac just in time to compete with Google Now on the web.

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Google Web Fonts rebrands as Google Fonts, simplifies web interface

Google has rebranded its font collection Google Fonts, which debuted in February 2011, dropping the ‘web’ from Google Web Fonts while still boasting its catalog of over 600 free, open-source fonts optimized for the web.

Google has also simplified the web interface with a more modern design, which allows users to view font examples in various formats, including word, sentence, and paragraph.

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Google uses its Android scale to increase charitable giving with One Today app

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Google is heading toward 1 Billion Android users and two million in the next few years. Imagine if Google could harness a few tenths of a percent of that to give to charity. That’s the idea behind the One Today project. It’s a social giving project which is invite only at the moment but one ramped would seem to have a powerful affect on giving, if Google can get people involved. Read more