Leak shows first Asus Chromebooks coming soon w/ C200 & C300 models

According to new reports pointing to what look like internal strategic documents, Asus appears to be preparing to launch its first Chromebook products in the near future. VR-Zone posted an image (via GigaOM) showing two Chromebook models, the C200 and C300, mentioned in a document titled “ASUS NB Strategy.”

We’ve seen Chromebooks from Acer, Samsung, HP, and more recently Toshiba, but one of Google’s closest OEM partners, Asus, has yet to release one. It’s not that surprising that it plans to, however, as it is already making a Chrome OS device soon to hit the market. Earlier this month the company announced the smallest-ever Chromebox set to go on sale next month starting at $179.

There aren’t any details about when we might be seeing the Chromebooks from Asus or specs for the two models, but of course there is speculation the company could make a hybrid tablet/Chromebook like line of Transformer products.  Read more

Best Buy drops 50% off Galaxy Gear as we inch closer to ‘Unpacked 5′ event

From 9to5Toys.com:

samsung_galaxy_gearPerhaps adding more fuel to the fire of a potential second generation Galaxy Gear being announced at Samsung’s Unpacked 5 event later this month, Best Buy is offering the current Gear for just $149.99 with free shipping. This 50% price drop yields the lowest price we have ever seen. If you’re interested in cashing in on this deal you have to move quick because this special pricing is good for today only.

Also AT&T has a promotion starting today on Galaxy Gear watches:

  •  Also starting today, people can take $100 off a Samsung Gear with the purchase of a Galaxy Note 3, GS4, GS4 Active and/or Galaxy Mega.  Notably, this deal is also available for customers who already bought one of those devices from AT&T. This offer is also only available in our company-owned stores.

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Dennis Woodside officially announces departure from Motorola, long-time Googler Jonathan Rosenberg to become new COO

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Last night, it was reported that Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside would be stepping down from his position to become the chief operating officer at cloud storage company Dropbox. Woodside has now confirmed this decision in a blog post on the Official Motorola Blog, saying that he will step down as CEO at the end of March.

Woodside goes on to announce that Jonathan Rosenberg, who was the SVP of Products at Google from 2002 until 2011, will step in as COO at Motorola Mobility on April 1st. Rosenberg worked closely with Woodside and was “intimately involved” with decisions at Motorola. Google Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora will remain Executive Chairman of the Motorola Operating Board and continue to oversee strategy at the company. It looks as if Motorola will be going without a CEO after Woodside leaves, leaving Lenovo with a lot of control.

Woodside says he is leaving Motorola Mobility “in great hands” and that he is immensely proud of what the company has accomplished in the past 18 months. He also notes that he is excited for the next chapter for the company under Lenovo, who purchased it for $3 billion last month.

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston has also issued a statement on the news.

“We’ve long admired Dennis’s leadership at Google and Motorola where he ran multi-billion dollar businesses and built amazing organizations around the world. We’re so happy to welcome Dennis to our team — I can’t imagine a better person to help us bring Dropbox to global scale.”

Read the full resignation letter after the jump:

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US Winter Storm just got real…Google rolls out a Crisis Response map for Eastern US

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Between shoveling the driveway and bringing in firewood, I just noticed Google’s got a new Crisis Response Map for the (South) Eastern Storm.

Google usually reserves these for natural disasters like fires, typhoons, tidal waves and hurricanes.    Stay safe out there.  Read more

Dropbox hires Motorola CEO, 10-year Google veteran Dennis Woodside as chief operating officer

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According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, Dropbox plans to name Motorola CEO and 10-year Google veteran Dennis Woodside as its first chief operating officer. Citing people “familiar with the matter,” the report says that Woodside will focus on further expanding Dropbox services into businesses and schools, as the company faces stiff competition from other services, such as Box Inc. 

Woodside joined Google in 2003 and was tasked with helping manage the search giant’s relationships with partners and advertisers internationally. He became the CEO of Motorola Mobility when the company was acquired by Google in 2011. Of course, Google just sold its Motorola Mobility unit to Lenovo last month for $3 billion, meaning that Woodside’s rein at Google would be coming to an end.

This is a big loss for Motorola. Even though Woodside didn’t return the company to profitability in his short tenure as CEO, he did release several very well-received smartphones, including the Moto X and its lower-cost sibling the Moto G. It remains to be seen who will take over when Woodside officially steps down from his post at Motorola. 

At Dropbox, Woodside will be the business veteran of the team, working under chief executive Drew Houston chief technology officer, Arash Ferdowsi. Dropbox has reportedly been slowing down in terms of growth, with its sales slowing and questions being raised about whether it is profitable or not. Woodside will certainly have his hands full at Dropbox. 

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LG announces G Pro 2 with Snapdragon 800 processor, slow-mo video

640_31Ahead of Mobile World Congress later this month, LG has just announced its new LG G Pro 2 device as a successor the original G Pro, unveiled at MWC last year. The G Pro 2 features a 5.9-inch full HD IPS display with a 3.3mm thin bezel, giving it a screen to size ratio of 77 percent, putting it near the top of the numbers we saw earlier this week about other devices.

The G Pro 2 also features a 13MP camera that is capable of 12oFPS slow-motion video recording, in addition to standard 4k recording. The camera also includes a variety of shooting modes, including a “Flash for Selfie” mode that offers more “soft” lighting for self-portraits.

In terms of power, the device features a 2.26GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor with an Adreno 330 GPU and 3GB of RAM. It has a 3200mAh battery, as well as a microSD card slot for up to 64GB of additional storage. The G Pro 2 itself will be sold in 16GB and 32GB variants. It will ship with Android 4.4 KitKat.

LG is also touting a new “Knock Code” feature that supposedly makes unlocking and using your phone even easier. Knock Code allows users to unlock their G Pro 2  by simply tapping their screens using one of the 86,367 “knock” combinations.

As far as availability goes, the device is available in Korea now, but LG says it does not know when it will launch in other areas. Full press release after the jump.

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Google Mobile Services restrictions for OEMs once again coming under scrutiny

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The Wall Street Journal has published a new report in which it claims that there are some major “strings attached” for manufacturers when it comes to using Android. According to documents obtained by the publication, Google has imposed strict regulations on companies that wish to have access to YouTube or the Play Store on their devices. The documents show that in order to receive access to those services, companies are forced to feature other Google apps and set Google search as the default search engine on the device.

Companies wishing to gain access to Google services are forced to sign a “Mobile Application Distribution Agreement” with Google. Both HTC and Samsung have signed such agreements, which force them to preinstall twelve Google apps on any device they release. Other details of the agreement include placing the Search and Play Store apps “immediately adjacent” to the homescreen, and that Google apps appear no more than one screen away. Samsung and Google also recently signed a deal to license each other’s patents for the next 10 years.

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Google Play Music updated with ability to save radio stations offline, Play Next button, more

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Google today updated the Play Music app for Android with a handful of new features. The biggest change is the ability to cache radio stations for offline listening, following the update in December that added the ability to save songs to your SD card. This means that you can now create a radio station and be able to listen to it whenever you want, even if you don’t have an active internet connection. It’s unclear how much of a radio station Google will cache, but we’d imagine it’s quite a few songs, so you can listen for a while before hearing a repeat song (via Android Police).

Also new with this update is the ability to manage your authorized Google Play Music devices from directly within the app. There’s a cap of 10 devices, and as many power users now, it doesn’t take long to reach that limit, especially if you share an account with family members.

There are a few other minor tweaks throughout the app with this update, such as a new “Play Next” button on songs, artists, and albums. There’s no official changelog just yet, as this appears to be a staged rollout. Be sure to keep an eye on the Play Store for the update to hit your device.

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Google & VMware bring Windows to enterprise Chromebook users

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Google announced a partnership with virtualization software maker VMware today that will bring Chromebook users access to Windows desktops and apps. The deal means enterprise Chromebook users will have access to Windows apps through VMware Horizon DaaS and an upcoming Chrome Web Store app:

Cloud applications allow flexibility, scalability and security and enable a work-anywhere environment, but many of our customers still use traditional desktop applications. Desktop as a Service (DaaS) helps bridge the gap between the cloud and a traditional desktop by allowing you to run your traditional software in the cloud and have applications appear on your Chromebook similarly to how they run today. An example might be your Windows based accounting application.

It might sound a little bit like Google is admitting that enterprise customers need more than just Chrome apps to get the job done, but it’s also embracing the upcoming end of life for Windows XP and encouraging business customers to upgrade to Chromebooks. Giving businesses access to the Windows apps many rely on is certainly a good argument for upgrading to Chromebooks. In a statement in VMware’s press release, Google’s president of enterprise Amit Singh said “Chromebooks can save businesses about $5,000 per computer when compared to traditional PCs.” Read more

Android increases lead over iOS in Q4 to 78% of smartphone market w/ 226m units shipped

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Research firm IDC is out today with its latest report on the worldwide smartphone market highlighting shipments and marketshare by operating system for last quarter and all of 2013. Together Android and iOS made up around 95.7% of all smartphone shipments in the last quarter of 2013 (up from 91.2% in the year ago quarter), but the real story is how much Android has grown compared to iOS. As of last quarter, Android made up almost 80% of that 95.7% and shipped close to 800 million of the billion smartphones shipped during 2013.  Read more

AllCast developer teases full Android mirroring to Chromecast

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Koushik Dutta, Cyanogen Inc co-founder and developer of the AllCast app that allows Chromecast streaming of local photos and video from your phone or tablet, has posted the above meme graphic hinting at the ability to mirror the entire Android screen to a TV.

Dutta had previously suggested that the functionality might be coming to Android officially …  Read more