New Google Maps leaks ahead of Google I/O, totally redesigned with tons of new features

The guys at Droid-Life we able to snag some screenshots of the new Google Maps interface set to be released later today at I/O. This isn’t the first leak we’ve seen of the new look (check last week) but it does go into more detail and it appears that the screenshots are of the upcoming product announcement page. Google apparently removed the page after the sneak peak but all of the images are above in all their glory. Read more

Facebook publicly launches Buck, a new Android build system

Just in time for Google I/O, Facebook just posted some big news for Android developers:

At the end of Camp Hack-a-Thona (the name of our annual three day hackathon in the summer), I had a working prototype for Buck, a new Android build system. By the end of August, I introduced Buck as the build tool for our Android apps, and we deleted all of the build.xml files in our repository a couple of weeks later. It took less time to download Buck’s source code, build it from scratch, and then build the Android app with Buck than it took to build the Android app with Ant. From Day 1, Buck was twice as fast as Ant, cutting Facebook for Android app build times down from 3:40 to 1:30.

Buck has enabled us to scale our repository, as modules are defined by simple, declarative build rules, so the overhead in creating one is negligible. Today we have the equivalent of over 400 Android library projects in our repository (but only 51 AndroidManifest.xml files and 141 res/ directories), which would be unthinkable using Ant. Because all four of our Android apps (Facebook for Android, Messenger, and  Pages Manager) are built from one codebase with a single, unified directory of Java source code, code reuse is straightforward. This fine-grained design also makes it easier to create small, sample applications for testing individual features of an app. These sample apps can be built much more quickly than the full-blown Facebook for Android app, which helps our developers iterate faster.

The crowd at Mobile DevCon NYC convinced me that we should not keep this tool to ourselves and that it was time to open-source Buck. Watch the video here.

We are extremely excited to share Buck with the Android development community. You can check out the code from GitHub as well as explore the documentation. We hope that you find Buck as helpful in scaling and speeding up your Android development as we have.

Hours before Google I/O kicks off, Larry Page addresses health complications via Google+

Larry Page

Google CEO, Larry Page, adressed his years of health complications today via a Google+ post, letting the world know that he was diagnosed with left vocal-cord paralysis.  This issue led to Larry skipping last year’s I/O and subsequent earnings calls. Larry revealed that he is trying to help eradicate this issue by developing a patient survey to gather information from others who suffer from the same problems.

Larry’s message in its entirety is below…

About 14 years ago, I got a bad cold, and my voice became hoarse. At the time I didn’t think much about it. But my voice never fully recovered. So I went to a doctor and was diagnosed with left vocal cord paralysis. This is a nerve problem that causes your left vocal cord to not move properly. Despite extensive examination, the doctors never identified a cause — though there was speculation of virus-based damage from my cold. It is quite common in cases like these that a definitive cause is not found.
Read more

Google combines free storage across Gmail, Drive and +Photos, 15GB for consumers, 30GB for Apps

A nice little pre-I/O surprise today from Google: Everyone who uses Gmail, G+ Photos and Google Drive now gets 15GB of free space across all three platforms instead of the previous 10 GB for Gmail and another 5 GB for Drive and Google+ Photos. That’s a lot of combined space

We’ll also be making updates to the Google Drive storage page, so you can better understand how you’re using storage space. Simply hover over the pie chart to see a breakdown of your storage use across Drive, Gmail, and Google+ Photos. And if you need more storage, this is your place to upgrade, with plans starting at $4.99/month for 100 GB.

Pro tip: This change means you’re no longer limited to a 25 GB upgrade in Gmail—any additional storage you purchase now applies there, too.

These changes to Google Drive storage will roll out over the next couple of weeks. Google Apps users will also be getting shared storage, so visit the enterprise blog to learn more.

Enterprise users get 30GB between the three platforms. Read more

AT&T denies plans to cancel the HTC First phone prematurely, says no decisions have been made

BGR this morning said that AT&T wasn’t happy with the HTC First, the phone with the Facebook Home built in.

BGR has confirmed that HTC and Facebook’s little experiment is nearing its end. BGR has learned from a trusted source that sales of the HTC First have been shockingly bad. So bad, in fact, that AT&T has already decided to discontinue the phone.

Business Insider hears the same.  The chatter likely increased after AT&T dropped the price of the First to essentially Free last week.  An AT&T spokesperson just told us:

“As mentioned previously, we do pricing promotions all the time and have made no decisions on future plans.”

Clearly there is wiggle room on both sides here but no one can say that Facebook’s venture has been successful so far. Read more

Talking Schmidt: Don’t Be Evil is “the stupidest rule ever”

(Businessweek / Peg Korpinski)

(Businessweek / Peg Korpinski)

In our continuing series Talking Schmidt we bring you the most insightful lines from Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Schmidt, who is promoting his new book The New Digital Age, spoke with NPR over the weekend on the Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! program in a rather lighthearted appearance.

NPR host Peter Sagal asked the executive chairman how much Google knew about its users at the top of show, which prompted Schmidt to admit, “Well, as much as you’ll let us know.”

Schmidt also mentioned that the company really doesn’t quite know the definition of evil, from its famous slogan “Don’t Be Evil,” and that he thought it was “the stupidest rule ever” when he joined the company.

Read more

In wide-ranging interview, Google’s Sundar Pinchai downplays Android/Chrome I/O announcements

Sundar Pichai

I’m not going to lie, this is a bit depressing. Among other boilerplate-type of answers to good questions that Wired’s Steven Levey threw at him, Sundar Pinchai said:

What can we expect from I/O this year?

It’s going to be different. It’s not a time when we have much in the way of launches of new products or a new operating system. Both on Android and Chrome, we’re going to focus this I/O on all of the kinds of things we’re doing for developers, so that they can write better things. We will show how Google services are doing amazing things on top of these two platforms.

We’ll be on hand this week to see exactly what that means.

Some other tidbits from the interview: On Firefox OS: “It isn’t surprising. If we don’t do ChromeOS, someone else will”. On Google-branded hardware: “Any hardware projects we do will be to push the ecosystem forward”. Read more

Google Play Games details leak ahead of I/O 2013 with huge Google Plus tie-ins

Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 8.34.30 AM

Android Police’s Ron Amadeo has the details on the new syncing, matchmaking, notifications, game invites, achievements, leaderboards, and integration with other Google services that are inside the new Gaming APK that is being rolled out to devices.

Fresh out of Google HQ, we’ve managed to score a copy of the newGoogle Play Services v3.1.36, which is very slowly rolling out to devices right now. For comparison, the current Play Services that most people have is v3.0.27. 3.1 is a massive update – the strings file, for instance, has more than doubled from 300 to 700 entries. This is how Google is pushing out all the shared files for Google Play Games.

To make a long story short, there is a lot of new stuff here and most of it has ties to Google Plus. Shocking, I know.