Google building its own brand of ‘robo taxi’ cars

google-driverless-car

Google Ventures’ $250M investment in Uber makes a lot more sense with some news reported by Jessica Lessin this morning. The site is reporting that Google is making its own driverless cars to be “robo taxis”:

Google Inc., which has been working on software to help major automakers build self-driving cars, also is quietly going around them by designing and developing a full-fledged self-driving car, according to people familiar with the matter.

While the Prius has been Google’s main guinea pig of the self-driving car efforts, it looks like Google would like to control the entire manufacturing experience for these cars. In addition, the company’s focus is geared towards driver-free taxi services rather than selling the cars direct to consumers.  Read more

Moto Maker goes live as Moto X lands on AT&T alongside Galaxy Mega & HTC One mini

Moto-Maker

We knew it was coming and today is finally the day that customers can get their hands on Motorola’s new Moto X flagship smartphone and the thousands of customization options offered through Moto Maker. While Moto X should be arriving on all major carriers in the US around the end of this month, the AT&T version of the device available starting today is the only one that will offer access to Moto Maker. The other carriers will be launching white and black versions of the device until Motorola’s puts an end to AT&T ‘s exclusive window sometime later this year.

Starting today, the customizable, assembled in the US version of the Moto X is available exclusively through the MotoMaker.com online tool for AT&T customers. Unfortunately online purchasing isn’t an option at this point, so you’ll have to first purchase the device through AT&T.  That includes the 16GB model for $199 and the 32GB model for $249 on contract.

The Moto Maker tool is the standout feature of the Moto X, allowing users to choose from over 2000 customization options for back, front and accent colors, unique wallpapers, and engraving. Unfortunately, we found out earlier this month that engraving won’t be available initially due to some manufacturing issues.

It’s not the only notable device launching on the carrier today, however. The company is also kicking off availability of the 6.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Mega $149.99 on the usual two year agreement today, as well as the 4.3-inch HTC One Mini for $99.99 on contract.  Read more

Google Glass ramp-up continues apace with patents purchase from Foxconn

google-glass-modular

The WSJ reports that Google has bought a number of display patents from Foxconn, a company best-known for making iPhones and iPads for Apple.

The Apple and iPad assembler didn’t specify a value for the deal or expound on details, except to say the patents sold to Google included head-mounted technology that allows a virtual image to be superimposed on a “real-world view” …  Read more

Chrome OS updated with fullscreen apps, monitor scaling, wallpaper syncing and more

Photo: dpcdn.pl

Photo: dpcdn.pl

The stable version of Chrome OS has been updated to offer a new “immersive mode”, allowing apps to be used in fullscreen form with toolbar and shelf both hidden. A fullscreen button launches immersive mode, and hovering near the top reveals the toolbar.

The new version also monitor scaling, allowing users to scale the UI elements to suit their screen resolution, and a range of other user-interface improvements …  Read more

Google improves definitions in Search w/ sample sentences, synonyms, translations & spoken responses

fortuitous (1)

Google noted today on its Google+ page that it has updated search on both the desktop and mobile with new and improved definitions. Google search would previously let users ask for a definition by simply asking, for example, “What’s the definition of fortuitous?” The most recent update makes those definitions even more useful with the addition of sample sentences, synonyms, origin, translations and more:

Now you’ll also see sample sentences that highlight how the word is used, as well as synonyms…Give it a whirl the next time you’re reading an article online and you stumble across an unfamiliar word. In addition, try translating words to one of 60+ languages directly from the box. When you select a language, future definition searches will consistently provide a translation to that same language.

In addition to those features, Google will also offer spoken responses when tapping the microphone icon next to the definition: Read more

Chrome 30 beta makes search-by-image just a right-click away

image-search

Now that Chrome 29 has gone mainstream, Google has introduced Chrome 30 to the beta stage. This release makes it easier to use Google’s search-by-image feature, which allows you to upload an image and search the internet for webpages that have that image (also great for finding larger sizes of images). Right-click any image on the web in Chrome 30 and you’ll see the option to “Search Google for this image”.

Chrome for Android also sees some improvement in this release with the introduction of new gestures: Read more

Americans watch 48 billion online videos a month, 17B of them on Google sites, claims comScore

comscore-vid

Figures released by comScore today make the surprising claim that 187 million Americans watched a total of 58 billion online videos between them last month, excluding ads. 17.7B of them were on Google sites, presumably mostly YouTube.

To clarify, comScore counts a video view as watching ‘at least three seconds’. So if you click on a link posted by a friend on Facebook, watch a few seconds, decide it’s boring and close the window, that gets counted. But it still seems like a very high number to us …  Read more

Google’s Street View fun continues with virtual visits to zoos & animal parks

panda

Google’s expanded Street View program today added coverage of a range of zoos and animal parks in North America, South America, Canada, Mexico, China, Germany, Spain, France, Belgium and the UK. This includes the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China, home to more than 30 percent of the world’s Giant Pandas, reports the Google Maps blog.

If you enjoy watching wildlife, but find yourself stuck in the urban jungle, never fear. You can now use Google Maps and Street View to preview the must-see spots at zoos around the world before heading there in person, or take a virtual trip to some of the most famous zoos and animal parks, right from your living room.

The development adds to a diverse range of fascinating Street View tours offered by Google in recent times …  Read more

Robert Scoble says Best Buy rumored to sell Google Glass next year [update: no]

google-glass-robert-scoble (1)

According to a report from plugged-in technologist Robert Scoble, Google might have plans to rent out around 6,000 square feet inside every Best Buy location to begin selling Google Glass by as early as next year.

Scoble does note that this is still a rumor at this point, but hopefully we’ll get some more details soon. While previous reports claimed that Google Glass could be available for everyone to purchase by the end of the year, Google confirmed earlier this week that Glass will not begin shipping to consumers until at least 2014.

Google Glass is currently still available to those invited to Google’s Glass Explorer program, but the company recently started experimenting with a Gmail style invite-a-friend strategy for the product.

While we heard previously that Google had plans to open its own retail stores, it wouldn’t be the first time its used the store-within-store model as it already operates smaller spaces within Best Buy and Dixons. Read more

Google brings ‘Field Trip’ virtual tour guide app to Google Glass

Google is today rolling out its Field Trip app, previously available only on Android and iOS, to those lucky enough to be part of its Google Glass explorers program. While the Google Glassware version of the app appears to offer a slightly stripped down version of the virtual tour guide experience, the hands-free experience with Glass seems to be a natural fit for Field Trip. John Hanke, who is in charge of the Niantic Labs project at Google told Cnet that Field Trip was actually “conceived with Glass in mind, but Glass wasn’t ready.”  Read more

Google ready to raise its TV profile by spending $1B+ on NFL streaming deal?

hdr__NFL_SUNDAY_TICKET_2013_video

AllThingsD reports that Google may be in discussions with NFL to buy the rights to the Sunday Ticket package when DirectTV’s contract runs out at the end of the 2014 season.

Today, according to sources, Google CEO Larry Page, along with YouTube content boss Robert Kyncl, met with a delegation from the NFL led by commissioner Roger Goodell. And the Sunday Ticket package was among the topics of discussion, according to people familiar with the meeting …  Read more