Google acquires Green Throttle Games to help work on upcoming set-top box

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According to a new report out of PandoDaily, Google has just acquired the Santa Clara-based Green Throttle Games. The report claims that Google has acquired the parts and labor of the company and that it plans to use it in its quest to develop a set-top box.

A Google spokesperson confirmed that a deal has been made between the two companies, but would not give specific information. The deal reportedly does consist of Matt Crowley and Karl Townsend, who worked on the first iteration of the Palm Pilot and are co-founders of Green Throttle Games.

Green Throttle Games launched in 2012 and set out to create a seamless gaming experience with Android devices. The company sold a custom ‘Atlas’ controller that worked with Android devices that had their Android Arena app installed. The controller would work with Android devices via BlueTooth. The technology never really took off and was criticized for being buggy and too far behind its competitors.

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Flappy Bird creator says he’s considering letting the bird loose again

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In an extensive interview with Rolling Stone, Flappy Bird creator Dong Nguyen shared that it’s possible he will make the incredibly challenging iOS and Android game available for users again… but with a disclaimer.

As for the future of his flapper, he’s still turning down offers to purchase the game. Nguyen refuses to compromise his independence. But will Flappy Bird ever fly again? “I’m considering it,” Nguyen says. He’s not working on a new version, but if he ever releases one it will come with a “warning,” he says: “Please take a break.” Read more

Google introduces add-on features for Google Docs & Sheets

Announced today, Google is introducing a new layer of features to its Google Docs and Google Sheets productivity web apps. The word processor and spreadsheet editor will now support additional features through user-installed add-ons developed by select partners.

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The add-ons are accessible through a menu in the tool bar when editing a document or spreadsheet and include a number of partners like Mail Chimp and Avery. Once prompted from the tool bar, Docs and Sheets will present a store-like interface laying out the various supported add-ons allowing you to install them to your apps.

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Google eyeing Manhattan retail space within block of SoHo Apple Store for first permanent brick & mortar shop

Crain’s New York reports that Google could be close to signing a lease in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood that would put the company’s first standalone retail store next to several high-end retailers.

The company is apparently interested in 131 Greene St., a roughly 4,100 square foot space located next to high-end fashion retailers like Stella McCartney and Tiffany and about a block away from Apple’s existing SoHo store: Read more

Don’t look for missing Malaysian Airlines flight on Google Maps – but you can help with this other crowdsource site

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The Malaysian Star (via the Huffington Post) reports that it has had calls from readers who have been looking for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 … on Google Maps. Spotting static images of aircraft in flight, they have been reporting them as downed aircraft.

With the search entering its fourth day on Tuesday, several concerned citizens called The Star, believing that they have discovered the missing airplane after scrolling through the Google Maps satellite images.

While Google Maps images are of course typically months to years old, surprisingly it is possible for Internet users to help search for the plane in contemporary satellite images …  Read more

HTC One (2014) M8 leak explains “duo” backside cameras

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The HTC One 2014 leaks keep coming, this time with the “Duo Camera” being explained by a pamphlet from Australian carrier Telstra picked up by GSM Arena.  According to the document, the ‘Duo Camera’ will allow you to “Create vivid images in low light and professionally edit them after you’ve taken the shot. Choose where to focus, highlight what you love, soften backgrounds and add 3D effects.”

EVO 3D part II or will this be a gamechanger? We’ll find out in two short weeks..

Samsung recruits JAY Z and Kanye West to play an exclusive concert for Galaxy owners at SXSW

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Image via Mashable

On the heels of its Galaxy S5 product announcement, Samsung will once again enlist JAY Z to make a publicity splash for its smartphones. According to Mashable, JAY Z and Kanye West are set to perform a one-night only concert on March 12th at SXSW with entry only permitted to fans with the Milk Music app installed on a Galaxy device. The imagery on the invitation hints that the duo will revisit their raucous Watch The Throne days.
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Google offering 60 days of free Play Music All Access to Chromebook users

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Hot on the heels of Samsung’s announcement of its new “Milk” streaming music service, Google has announced that it will be offering 60 days of free access to its Play Music All Access service to certain users, as well as anyone who owns a Chromebook.

Normally, the service runs $9.99 a month for the premium plan. Play Music All Access allows users to access a library of millions of on-demand tracks on any Android device. Prior to this offer, Google was offering 30 days of free usage, but the company has graciously doubled that for a limited time.

If you’ve been wanting to try Play Music All Access, keep an eye on your inbox for two free months of the service.

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Google rewarding three top executives with bonuses of more than $3 million

Googler Patric Pichette

Googler Patric Pichette

In a filing with the SEC today, Google has revealed that it will be giving three of its top executives bonuses of more than $3 million. Co-founder and CEO Larry Page will not be awarded a bonus, nor will co-founder Sergey Brin. The two co-founders also take a salary of $1 a year, as their wealth is tied almost entirely into Google stock.

Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora will be receiving a $3.5 million bonus, up from $2.8 million last year. Chief Legal Officer David C. Drummond will receive a bonus of $3 million, down slightly from the $3.3 million he was paid last year. Finally, Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette’s bonus increased to $3 million from $2.8 million.

Last month, Google announced that it had paid Eric Schmidt $6 million in cash and given him $100 million in restricted stock.

The bonuses issued to Arora, Drummond, and Pichette will be paid out on March 14th.

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Google Apps paying $15 to acquire each new customer through new referral program

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Google announced today on its Enterprise blog that it’s introducing a new Google apps referral program that will see the company payout $15 for each new customer referred through the program.

Many of the millions of Google Apps customers learned about tools like Hangouts, Drive and Gmail for business from their customers, friends and networks. To help continue the momentum, we’re launching the Google Apps Referral Program. The referral program makes it easy to share Google Apps with your network and show them how they too can use these tools at work. To show our appreciation, we’re offering a $15 referral bonus for each new Google Apps user you refer.

Those interested in joining the referral program will need a valid taxpayer ID number and bank account for direct deposits. Google also says it will provide email and website templates that can be used to send a unique referral link to potential customers.Google Apps users in the US and Canada that are interested in joining the referral program can do so here.

Update: We had a quick Q&A with Google pasted below:

  • Are you phasing out the $5/user/year you guys give to IT service providers or is that staying? This program does not impact the amount provided to Google Apps Resellers.
  • Is it an affilaite program?   After joining the program, members will receive $15 for every user that signs up from their recommendations. In order to receive the incentive, referrals must be Google Apps customers for at least 4 months. Then we’ll make a direct deposit to the referee’s bank account every month for the amount they’ve earned. 
  • How long do people have to stay in the program for a payout? I’m assuming the $15 comes with a year program signup. In order to receive the incentive, referrals must be Google Apps customers for at least 4 months. Then we’ll make a direct deposit to the referee’s bank account every month for the amount they’ve earned. 
  • Will Google be expanding this to include $ on apps or Android apps or hardware/Nexus products? (Hope so!) We’re excited about today’s launch of the Google Apps Referral Program, but have nothing else to announce.

The fine print from Google is below: Read more

Samsung posts (very!) detailed videos for the Galaxy S5 and Gear smartwatches

Samsung’s description of a nine-minute video as a ‘quick look’ at the Gear 2 and Gear Fit smartwatches may be about as accurate as its claim that they are everything users “loved” about the original Gear, but if you want to know everything the watches do and how to do it in full detail, this video is your friend.

The Galaxy S5 video (below the fold) is a little shorter, at a touch under eight minutes …  Read more

Google confirms Android SDK for wearables coming in two weeks

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Today during a talk at a SXSW Interactive event, Google’s Android and Chrome chief Sundar Pichai apparently announced that a new Android SDK for developers interested in developing wearables will arrive in the next two weeks (via TheVerge). While Google isn’t announcing any specific products, Pichai made it clear that Google will be approaching Android on smart watches and wearables much like on smartphones. With the new SDK, Sundar said the company plans to “lay out a vision for developers as to how we’ll see this market working.” Pichai also hinted that the new Android SDK for wearables will incorporate wearables beyond simply smartwatches.

“We want to develop a set of common protocols by which they can work together,” Pichai said, “they need a mesh layer and they need a data layer by which they can all come together”… “when we say we say wearables, we are thinking much more broadly”

9to5Google first reported that Google was working on a smartwatch that would rely heavily on Google Now-like features. There have been unconfirmed reports recently that Google as well as some of its close partners like LG have been developing smart watches and wearables running Android. Google also picked up WIMM Labs late last year for its Android smartwatch/wearble platform and SDK and the most recent report claimed that a Nexus smartwatch announcement could come as soon as this month. Read more