FAA expected to allow tablet and laptop use during take-off & landing this year

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The Federal Aviation Administration’s investigation into whether airline passengers can be allowed to use tablets, eBook readers and laptops throughout a flight is apparently looking hopeful, as The New York Times cited an insider saying approval would likely be granted this year.

According to people who work with an industry working group that the Federal Aviation Administration set up last year to study the use of portable electronics on planes, the agency hopes to announce by the end of this year that it will relax the rules for reading devices during takeoff and landing. The change would not include cellphones.

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HTC attempts turnaround after missing the boat on HTC One launch

OB-WU880_HTCBen_D_20130325053504After failing to get its new HTC One phone into the stores before the Samsung Galaxy 4, and seeing its sales fall 41 percent last year, HTC has told the Wall Street Journal that it will make big changes to its marketing approach.

HTC’s new chief marketing officer Benjamin Ho said the company would withdraw the ‘Quietly Brilliant’ tagline that was symptomatic of its whole approach to marketing: low-key, product-focused, and refraining from head-to-head challenges to its competitors.

The first evidence of this switch in strategy was seen in its response to Samsung’s launch of the Galaxy S4. HTC tweeted that it was #theNextBigFlop and did demos of the HTC One to journalists queuing to attend Samsung’s press launch … Read more

Google hosts Indonesian street art with Chrome Open Spaces, invites archipelago artists to submit work via custom Chrome app (Video)

Google is really into art, as evident by the company’s most recent update to the Google Art Project, and now it is hosting Indonesian art via the Chrome Open Spaces project.

The Google Chrome blog has the story:

From old masters like Basuki to contemporary street artists like Darbotz, Indonesia has a long and rich history of art. The rapidly growing population and economy has led to densified urban spaces,crazy traffic and the rise of Indonesian street art. The Chrome Open Spaces project used the web to bring all these elements together.

Google said the project showcases creativity blended with modern web technologies, such as HTML5, and it even allows archipelago artists to submit drawings through a custom-designed Chrome app that enables the creation of online ‘street art’ with digital values.

“Over 12,000 drawings were submitted and 11,000 votes were cast,” Google explained. “From these virtual paintings, nine winners were chosen to have their creations showcased on buildings and walls across Jakarta and Bandung.”

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HTC delays One phone until late April, now will hit at the same time as the Galaxy S4

Very bad news for HTC on the typical bad news Friday PR release timing:

“HTC has seen unprecedented demand for and interest in the new HTC One, and the care taken to design and build it is evidenced in early reviews. The new HTC One will roll out in the UK, Germany and Taiwan next week and across Europe, North America and most of Asia-Pacific before the end of April. We appreciate our customers’ patience, and believe that once they have the phone in their hands they will agree that it has been worth the wait.”

This might be a knockout blow for HTC. They aren’t going to be at volume until when the S4 hits stores, meaning they are giving up their first mover advantage.

Any advantage HTC has over the Galaxy S4 in hardware will likely be ceded by the lower-brand recognition, HTC Sense overlay or the perceived Ultra (low) Pixel camera.

Google Babble screenshots leaked or more likely a mockup?

Update, March 26: After receiving the screenshots below that allegedly show Google’s rumored Babble messaging service, another anonymous tipster has emailed today sharing different screenshots. The tipster disputes the authenticity of the initial screenshots we posted below, adding that the rumored Google messaging service will not be dubbed “Babble”. The new screenshots (above) do seem to fit in with Google’s recent redesign of its mobile apps more so than the first set of images.

An anonymous tipster sent in these screenshots that appear to be the rumored Google Babble or a nice mockup:

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We have no way to know if these are real, but the font looks a bit block-y and not Roboto enough and the quote “JC has started a Voting” is suspicious.

The service is rumored to combine all of Google’s messaging platforms into one and compete better with Apple’s iMessage and BlackBerry Messenger. Chatting on Google services now includes Google Voice, Google Talk, Google Hangouts, and others.

The rumors also point to a May release at Google I/O.

Me personally? I’d have given this a less than 5-10% chance of being legit. Read more

Sergey Brin’s Ted Talk on Google Glass (Video)

Google’s Sergey Brin gave a Ted Talk late last month and it was summarized thusly:

“This act of looking down at my phone is one of the reasons behind Glass. We questioned whether you should be walking around looking down. That was the vision behind Glass and that’s why we created this form factor. (…) When we made this we thought, ‘Can we make something that frees your hands and frees your eyes.’ That’s why we put the display up high and out of your line of sight so you can make eye contact with people. The sound conducts through the bones in your cranium to free up your ears. If you want to hear it better you cover up your ears, which is surprising.  Our original vision at Google was eventually to get rid of the search query and you’d just get the information you need when you need it. Fifteen years later this is first form factor that delivers on that vision. The project has lasted just over 2 years. We’ve learned  lot.”

Via BI/Hacker News Read more

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt admits he still hasn’t kicked the Crack/Blackberry habit

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Even though he is the Chairman of Google (the company behind Android in case you are from Neptune), Eric Schmidt told The Guardian that he still uses a BlackBerry phone. Schmidt pointed to the physical keyboard of many BlackBerry phones as the reason for his continued usage of the platform. In comparison, most Android smartphones include touch-screen keyboards. The Android phones with keyboards are also stuck on dated generations of the Android operating system.

Below is a slideshow of Schmidt and his BlackBerry throughout the last few years:

Google Art Project adds 2,000 works from 30 new partners, including São Paulo street art and rare pieces from China and Japan

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Google added 30 new partners and 2,000 diverse works to the Google Art Project on Thursday.

The collection includes “contemporary art from Latin America, ancient art from China, rare Japanese paintings and Paleolithic flint heads from Spain,” according to the official Google blog, and it highlights a multitude of photographs and pieces such as the growing trend of urban art and graffiti in Brazil.

“More than 100 works from walls, doors and galleries in São Paulo have been photographed and will be included in the Art Project,” said Google. “The pieces were chosen by a group of journalists, artists and graffiti experts and include artists such as Speto, Kobra and Space Invader, as well as images of São Paulo’s most famous building-size murals.”

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As for photography, the Art Project introduced 300 images from renowned photographers at the Fundacion MAPFRE in Spain, so folks can now view work by, for example, Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide. Google’s initiative also became home to Hungarian paintings contributed by the Petőfi Literary Museum. The Nemzeti Dal or “National Song,” for instance, has rarely been seen in public but is now online for the first time.

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No immediate plans to merge Chrome and Android, says Google Chairman Eric Schmidt

Speaking at Google’s Big Tent summit in India, Reuters reported executive chairman Eric Schmidt as saying that Chrome and Android will remain separate platforms. This news is in contrast to the widespread view that the two would merge.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt attends a function on catalysing tech Start-ups in India by NASSCOM, in New Delhi March 20, 2013. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Speculation had been driven by the announcement last week that Android founder Andy Rubin was moving to a new role within the company (as yet unspecified), while Chrome head Sundar Pichai would take on responsibility for Android. Speaking to the Guardian‘s Alan Rusbridger, Schmidt said:

Chrome and Android operating systems will remain separate products, although there could be more commonality between them.

Google may perhaps follow Apple’s approach of keeping OS X and iOS platforms separate but sharing certain user-interface elements, such as OS X’s Launchpad adopting a very iOS-like icon grid.

Android adopted the Chrome browser universally last year, while the ChromeOS got touch in its most recent incarnation on the Chromebook Pixel. Read more

Google Play 4.0 update leaks, features cleaner, improved UI

DroidLife staff member has received an update to the Play Store on a Nexus 4. The current Play Store is at version 3.10.14, but the new update is bumping that up to 4.0. While it’s obvious from the video posted by DroidLife that the update isn’t finalized, meaning that not everything about the new store is available to the public, the most notable change is a cleaner, smoother UI. In fact, when you first open the new Play Store, you’ll see a white blank screen, indicating that the ‘Featured’ section of the store hasn’t been pushed out to the public yet.

At first glance, you’ll notice text on list view and icons are bigger in the store than they were previously. When you select an app, the general layout remains the same—with the exception of more italicized font and repositioned buttons. DroidLife also reported a more ‘Halo’-themed tone to the store.

No word on whom else has received the update or when the widespread rollout will begin, but expect to see the update on your phone soon.

Google releases note-taking and organization service Google Keep for Android 4.0 and above (Video)

Google just released note-taking and organization app Google Keep on the Play Store.

Google Keep is available starting Wednesday for Android devices running Ice Cream Sandwich and above, but Keep users can also access, edit, and create their notes on the Web via Google Drive.

The official Google blog has the story:

Every day we all see, hear or think of things we need to remember. Usually we grab a pad of sticky-notes, scribble a reminder and put it on the desk, the fridge or the relevant page of a magazine. Unfortunately, if you’re like me you probably often discover that the desk, fridge or magazine wasn’t such a clever place to leave the note after all…it’s rarely where you need it when you need it. To solve this problem we’ve created Google Keep. With Keep you can quickly jot ideas down when you think of them and even include checklists and photos to keep track of what’s important to you. Your notes are safely stored in Google Drive and synced to all your devices so you can always have them at hand.

Google Keep clearly includes some Evernote-esque functionality, as 9to5Google reported previously, but it notably also auto-transcribes voice memos that are easy to search and find. What’s more: If users finish with a note, they can apply Gmail-like actions such as archive or delete.

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