Google acquires smart thermostat maker Nest for $3.2 billion in cash

Nest-Thermostat-Auto-Away

Google has confirmed in a press release that it is acquiring Nest Labs, the company behind Nest smart thermostats and fire alarms started by Father of the iPod Tony Fadell. Earlier reports were quickly confirmed along with the transaction price of $3.2 billion in cash in an official announcement posted on the company’s Investor website. In the statement, Google said that Fadell will be staying on board as a Google employee and continuing to run Nest: Read more

Nvidia’s ARM Tegra K1 ‘superchip’ delivers Intel notebook graphics performance in mobile devices

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Nvidia made some pretty big claims when it launched its 192-core Tegra K1 mobile processor, notable among them that it would out-perform many of today’s PC chips. Benchmark results posted on the WCCFtech site suggest that the claims are true: a tablet with a Tegra K1 delivered GFX GLBenchmark of 60fps at 1080p, making it significantly faster than two basic Intel Graphics notebooks included in the comparison.

As you can see the only device included in the bench to beat the Tegra K1 chip was Nvidia’s own GT 740M; and seeing this is a full fledged dGPU with 45W TDP it doesn’t mean much. However for the target niche the Tegra K1 was actually created; it leads with a major gap. Scoring a rock solid 60fps in an off screen 1080p Benchmark it fares significantly better than the Tegra 4. The predecessor to this chip can only manage a measly 16fps so you can see for yourself how great a difference this is …  Read more

Google finally working on airfare search two years after ITA acquisition, claims no-frills airline

Ryanair posts rise in profits

More than two years after Google acquired ITA and added travel search to its portfolio, the company is now actively working on an airfare search service, according to no-frills European airline Ryanair.

Well, it has a very basic search engine called Flights that operates somewhat like Kayak or Expedia or any of the other services out there but it now sounds like there is something more significant afoot.

Speaking to the Irish newspaper the Independent, Rynaair CEO Michael O’Leary says that it is working with Google on a new price comparison search for airline flights that will “blow everyone else out of the water,” and that the service is expected to launch in March. Ryanair is supplying its pricing information to Google to assist with the development of the service.

It should be noted that O’Leary is a PR master, not above seeking publicity by circulating stories which are not, shall we say, necessarily firmly grounded in established facts …  Read more

HP, the world’s biggest PC manufacturer, is set to launch its smartphone as soon as next week

We’ve gotten word from inside HP that the company is set to release an inexpensive Android smartphone aimed at the prepaid and emerging (BRIC) markets. We’re hearing the street price will be around $200 and it will be released in more than one market. Our source has pegged the launch at next week but delays can’t be ruled out at this point (and we’ve yet to hear anything publicly). Nokia Meego defector and new HP SVP Mobility  Alberto Torres is said to be heading up the group which has been working on the product for a year and a half.

We’re hearing that the device resembles the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note with obvious cost cutting measures to get the device down to the $200 price point. With HP’s Slate Android products, the company cut costs by using low pixel density displays so having a 720P display would seem about right and put it on a collision course with Samsung’s Galaxy Mega line with its 6.3-inch display and current street price of around $400.

HP CEO Meg Whitman last year confirmed the company was building a smartphone on the trail of dumping its WebOS ‘detour’.

“So a smartphone is not if, but when, for Hewlett-Packard?” – Whitman replied:  “[HP has] to ultimately offer a smartphone, because in many countries in the world that is your first computing device. You know, there will be countries around the world where people may never own a tablet or a PC or desktop. They will do everything on the smartphone. We’re a computing company, we have to take advantage of that form factor.”

Computerworld UK reported that she indicated it wouldn’t be in 2013.

“We don’t have any plans to introduce a smartphone in 2013, but we’ve got to start thinking about what is our unique play, how do we capture this element of the personal computing market?” Whitman said.

HP has to offer every kind of device, from workstations through all-in-one PCs, laptops, hybrid PCs, tablets “and, ultimately, smartphones,” she said.

“I believe that five years from now, if we don’t have a smartphone or whatever the next generation of that device is, we’ll be locked out of a huge segment of the population in many countries of the world,” she said.

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Google X employees meet w/ FDA staff in charge of biosensors, mobile medical apps

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Bloomberg reports that a recent meeting between Google’s secretive Google X team and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration raises “the possibility of a new product that may involve biosensors.” While it’s not that surprising that the Google X team behind Glass would meet with FDA staff that regulate eye devices, it’s also said to have met with those in charge of diagnostics for heart conditions. Bloomberg adds that four of the Google employees in attendance “have done research on sensors, including contact lenses that help wearers monitor their biological data.” Read more

Google updates Play Services with turn-based multiplayer, improved battery life, and more

Google-Play-services-

Google last updated its Play Services app back in October when KitKat and the Nexus 5 launched with a plethora of improvements. Today via the official Android Developers Blog, the company has announced another rather significant update to the app, brining it to version 4.1.

First off, the update will allow for developers to start implementing turn-based multiplayer capabilities into games entirely with Play Services. This will allow for improved asynchronous games with friends and opponents. The update also adds a developer preview of a new Google Drive API that lets users read and write Google Drive files from any device, with or without a data connection, and have their changes synced across other devices and platforms.

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Hisense announces new Pulse Pro set-top box running Android TV

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Although Google TV has not been the company’s most successful venture by any means, that hasn’t stopped several other companies from trying-out the concept. At CES 2014, Hisense is showing off its new set top box, the Pulse Pro. From the outside, it looks very similar to any other set-top box, but what’s interesting is that it’s running what Hisense calls “Android TV v4.” It’s not technically Google TV, although it’s built off of the same foundation. It is capable of running Google TV apps and also features the same PrimeTime Guide (via CNET).

One noticeable difference between the Pulse Pro and other Google TV devices is the home screen design. Everything is laid out in a very image-focused design, with the ability to quickly access Netflix, Vudu, Amazon Video, and more.

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Motorola offering free Google Chromecast with purchase of off-contract Moto X

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After the Cyber Monday madness surrounding the $349 Moto X, Motorola officially dropped the device’s off-contract price to just $399 last week, looking to get the device into even more consumer’s hands. Today, the company has announced another special offer for the Moto X. Starting today, January 8th, and running through January 14th, anyone who purchases an off-contract Moto X from Motorola’s website will also get a free Google Chromecast. The Chromecast costs $35 normally, so this is a great deal for anyone looking for the two devices.

The deal is live now on Motorola’s site. Simply use the promo “STREAM” to obtain the offer. The Moto X runs $399 for 16GB and $449 for 32GB.

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Gmail now lets you send emails to Google+ profiles

Continuing its integration of Google+ into just about everyone of its other products, today Google announced a nice improvement to Gmail that will auto suggest Google+ contacts. Gmail already displayed Google+ information next to emails, allowed you to search for emails by Circles, and keep your contacts up to date using Google+ data, but up until now you couldn’t select a Google+ contact as a recipient when composing an email. While Gmail will now auto suggest Google+ contacts when composing a new email, it also has a new setting to control who can reach you and see your email address: Read more

Samsung Galaxy S5 confirmed for April, new design, may have iris-scanner

Galaxy S5 design needs to be different to the S4, says Samsung

Galaxy S5 design needs to be different to the S4, says Samsung

Samsung didn’t reveal much that was new in a fairly wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg, but exec VP of the company’s mobile division Lee Young Hee did tease a couple of things while confirming that the Galaxy S5 would be released by April.

The company is “studying the possibility” of including the iris-recognition security system we told you about last month. If Samsung succeeds, it would be a neat piece of one-upmanship on the Touch ID fingerprint scanner in Apple’s iPhone 5S, iris-recognition being both faster and more secure than fingerprints.

The company also said that it recognized that the design of the S4 wasn’t sufficiently different from the S3, and that we can expect something significantly different from the S5 …  Read more

The $50 smartwatch will be here by the summer, says Archos

Photo: engadget.com

Photo: engadget.com

When a whole new category of technology arrives, you can usually rely on tech-heads to get excited about them even if the mass-market doesn’t. So far, though, smartwatches don’t seem to have made as much headway as many expected. When a confirmed gadget addict like me is left wondering why I’d want one, something somewhere is wrong.

But where functionality hasn’t persuaded many of us, perhaps price will. Archos is planning to launch a basic smartwatch in the summer for just $50, a price it may be hoping will lead people to stop asking ‘Why?’ and instead ask ‘Why not?’ …  Read more

T-Mobile announces new offer to buy your old phone, pay your ETF to switch

T-Mobile CEO John Legere announced today the company’s plan for Uncarrier 4.0 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Starting tomorrow, T-Mobile will offer new customers coming from AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint up to a $300 credit to trade-in their phone with the purchase of a T-Mobile device and a Simple Choice Plan. T-Mobile will also cover the cost of the early termination fee charged by the three major carriers for breaking contract by crediting up to $350 per line after sending in your last bill from your old carrier…
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