Vimeo and Redbox Instant support coming to Chromecast, Plex and HBO Go to follow?

Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 7.08.58 PM

Update: HBO confirmed to GigaOM that its in talks regrading offering support for Chromecast in the near future.

When Google announced the Chromecast last week, it revealed handful of content providers that are available to ‘cast’ to your TV. GigaOm is now reporting, however, that both Vimeo and Redbox Instant will soon be making their way to the new $35 streaming stick.

In a statement to the blog, Vimeo’s VP of mobile, Nick Alt had the following to say about Chromecast:

“We’re excited about the emerging opportunities bridging mobile to Connected TV and we look forward to offering Chromecast support in our products.”

The report also states that Redbox will also be bringing its Instant streaming service to Chromecast. Plex, a service that focuses mainly on brining local files to your big screen, also says that it is “actively investigating and optimistic” for Chromecast support.

Finally, GTV Hacker has also uncovered some configuration files that hint at tests for HBO Go as well as the services that Chromecast already supports.

While none of these services have specific time frames for release, it looks like Google will be moving a pretty quickly to beef up the streaming services it supports.  Read more

Android 4.3 cures performance issues of 2012 Nexus 7

nexus-7-tablet

While all eyes may be on the new Nexus 7, those with 2012 models may want to hold fire before handing over their cash for the shiny new model. AnandTech (via GigaOM) reveals that an upgrade to Android 4.3 could give the older model a whole new lease of life.

One of the common complaints late in the life of the original Nexus 7 was slow storage I/O performance, leading to an inconsistent user experience. After a fresh flash, the Nexus 7 was speedy and performant, but after months of installing applications and using the tablet, things began slowing down. This was a friction point that many hoped would be fixed in the new Nexus 7 (2013) model, which it was. There’s even more to the story though, it turns out Google has fixed that storage I/O ageing problem on all Nexus devices with the Android 4.3 update …  Read more

LG steals a trick from Samsung with QuickWindow case for G2

lg-g2-quickwindow

Teasing is in. After HTC teased the One Mini so much there was little we didn’t know by the launch, LG appears to be following suit with the G2, the successor to the Optimus G.

First there was the news that it would be powered by a Snapdragon 800 processor, then the likely screen, the official name, and the glass back and rear buttons. We’ve had a series of leaked images and video, and now LG has shown us its QuickWindow case.

An opening or “window” on the cover of QuickWindow allows users to glance at various information displays without having to open the cover flap. With only a light swipe of a finger, the QuickWindow UX will appear in the window which users can view while on the go. Information that can be viewed through the QuickWindow cover include a clock, weather report, alarm, music player, incoming phone call details and incoming text messages …  Read more

HTC faces possibility of first loss in company’s history, missing even pessimistic analyst forecasts

htc_taipei_headquarters_

HTC has followed its disappointing Q2 results by issuing revenue and profit warnings for Q3 suggesting the company may make its first ever loss in its 16-year history.

  • 3Q revenue is expected to be in the range of NT$50bn to NT$60bn ($1.7 to $2M)
  • Gross profit margin is expected to be in the range of 18% to 21%
  • Operating margin is expected to be in the range of 0% to -8%

The forecast revenue is below the average of 22 analysts polled by Reuters, and its projected operating margin of between 0 and -8 percent falls below most of the more pessimistic forecasts. Operating margin is essentially net profit margin before taxes, interest payments and dividends. Its operating margin for Q2 was just 1.5 percent.

It’s an ironic position for the company to find itself in not long after launching what we consider to be the best Android handset on the market …  Read more

Guy Kawasaki posts picture of the X Phone in green, but that’s just one of the expected 25 colors

We are just a few days away from Motorola’s official announcement of the X Phone, but that hasn’t stopped the leaks from coming. This time, the leak comes straight from Motorola evangelist Guy Kawasaki. On Google+ (via: Droid Life), Kawasaki posted a picture from a Motorola campus party that clearly shows the much rumored X Phone in the same green shade that we saw in other leaked images earlier this month.  The white and black variants are also present, but we’ve seen them several times before.

The X Phone is expected to be available in at least 25 different color options and sold built-to-order via an online portal. While we know a lot about the device already, Motorola should announce all the secrets this Thursday during its press event.  Read more

Google launches Zagat restaurant guide app for iPhone, fitting replacement for Google+ Local

Screen Shot 2013-07-29 at 9.45.51 AM

Following its acquisition of Zagat in 2011, Google has launched a brand-new iPhone app for Zagat on the App Store. The app features in-depth guides and ratings for restaurants:

Zagat is your guide to discovering the best and most notable restaurants, bars, cafes and clubs. We’re starting with nine cities (Austin, Boston, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC), and are expanding to more cities soon.

Read about the hottest openings, get useful lists of weekend ideas, intriguing how-to videos, chef interviews, and more. No need to wade through dozens of reviews–we’ll tell you in a nutshell what other people are saying.

Restaurant menus, articles, advanced searching tools, and reservations via OpenTable are also available from within the app. Zagat for iPhone is seemingly a replacement for the soon-to-be-discontinued Google+ Local app. New video overview of the the new Zagat:

Read more

Chromecast already rooted, revealed to be running software closer to Google TV than Chrome OS

Chromecast-teardown-iFixit

Just a few days after its announcement, Google’s new Chromecast stick has already been rooted. The rooting process, as detailed by GTV Hacker, is similar to almost every Android phone. During the announcement last week, Google said that the Chromecast was powered by Chrome OS, but GTV Hacker has found something different.

The blog says that after rooting and doing a little digging around within the software, it looks like the Chromecast is running software closer to Android or Google TV, not Chrome OS as Google implied. While this doesn’t mean all that much for the end user, it does leave the door open for an eventual port of the full Google TV operating to the tiny HDMI stick or the ability to install standalone apps at some point.

We had a lot of internal discussion on this, and have concluded that it’s more Android than ChromeOS. To be specific, it’s actually a modified Google TV release, but with all of the Bionic / Dalvik stripped out and replaced with a single binary for Chromecast. Since the Marvell DE3005 SOC running this is a single core variant of the 88DE3100, most of the Google TV code was reused. So, although it’s not going to let you install an APK or anything, its origins: the bootloader, kernel, init scripts, binaries, are all from the Google TV.

We are not ruling out the ability for this to become a Google TV “stick”.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google has been working on an Android-powered set-top box, so it’s possible that it the device may be some sort of advanced variation of the Chromecast.  Read more

Report: Android tablet shipments dominate iPad in Q2 2013

Strategy-Analytics-tablets-Q2-2013Research firm Strategy Analytics has released a report today on worldwide tablet market share for Q2 2013 highlighting how Android has seen a significant increase in market share during the quarter. Not only did it manage to capture 67% of the 51.7 million units shipped (up from 51% of the market last year), its increased market share came at the expense of a decline in tablet sales year over year for Apple.

Android is now making steady progress due to hardware partners like Samsung, Amazon, Google and White-Box tablets which, despite the fact that branded OEMs are lowering price-points and putting pressure on the White-Box manufacturers, are still performing well,” King added, “Apple iOS shipments were 14.6 million iPads in Q2 2013 which declined 14 percent annually.  In the same quarter a year ago the first Retina display iPads were launched which could partly explain the decline as there were no new models in this quarter.  However, to compensate that, iPad Mini which was not available a year ago, now freely available was expected to take the figure higher than 14.6 million”

Compared to Android’s 67% of total shipments, the report puts Apple at 28.3% of the market during the quarter, down from 47.2% a year ago, and Windows at 4.5%.

As always with these reports, there are a few things to keep in mind. Stratgey Analytics tracks shipments to retailers, not sales. Its numbers above also factor in White-Box tablets– those usually inexpensive, unbranded products that we never really get real sales figures for. Remove White-Box tablets and you get around 36.2 million total units in Q2 2013, up around 47 percent since last year. That would put Apple’s 14.6 million tablets sold during the quarter at a much higher market share in Q2, around 38%. Read more

Chromecast could be pocket-sized lifesaver for business presentations and family outings

Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 7.08.58 PM

Google’s new $35 Chromecast device has huge potential in a living-room environment, but as PC World notes, the device also could be a major player in the enterprise market as a presentation tool. If you have to give a presentation now, it’s tricky to make sure you have the right converters to connect to the projector at the office, and if you get there and it turns out you needed VGA, not DVI, you’re in big trouble. With the Chromecast, all you would have to do is bring it to your meeting and have your documents stored in Google Drive. From there you can cast all of your Chrome tabs to the big screen with no issues.

The Chromecast would also be the perfect device to take on a family outing, as it would allow you to easily watch Netflix content on any TV with an HDMI connection at your hotel.

While it may take a little work to get all your documents in Google Drive, the process has gotten simpler and simpler over time and with more businesses switching to Google Apps anyway, there’s no reason not to use a Chromecast in the office.  Read more

Wondering why YouTube keeps buffering on your high-speed connection? It’s no accident …

Image: techinasia.com

Image: techinasia.com

If, like me, you often find that 1080p content on youtube buffers even when your download speed is more than sufficient to stream HD content, arsTechnica has the explanation.

Behind the scenes, in negotiations that almost never become public, the world’s biggest Internet providers and video services argue over how much one network should pay to connect to another. When these negotiations fail, users suffer. In other words, bad video performance is often caused not just by technology problems but also by business decisions made by the companies that control the Internet …  Read more

After winning award from NSA, Google engineer says NSA shouldn’t exist

The NSA's $2b data centre in Bluffdale, Utah (source: businessweek.com)

The NSA’s $2b data centre in Bluffdale, Utah (source: businessweek.com)

Joseph Bonneau, a Google engineer, was the first person to be awarded the NSA’s “Best Scientific Cybersecurity  Paper” award last week for his “The Science of Guessing” report. Bonneau’s paper analyzed more than 70 million user passwords to see why people are not good at making strong passwords. While winning the award is great and all, Bonneau says he is not a big fan of the NSA in the first place.

In a blog post, he thanked the NSA for the award, but then went on to say that organization’s attempts to collect data from users are not something he agrees with. “I don’t think a free society is compatible with an organization like the NSA in its current form,” he wrote.

In accepting the award I don’t condone the NSA’s surveillance. Simply put, I don’t think a free society is compatible with an organisation like the NSA in its current form. Yet I’m glad I got the rare opportunity to visit with the NSA and I’m grateful for my hosts’ genuine hospitality.

Read more

Google believed to drop Asus, partner with LG for 2014 Nexus 7 to bolster hardware

While Google has only launched its latest tablet just last week with the redesigned, higher-resolution Nexus 7, there is already talk about next year’s model. Analyst Ming-Chi-Kuo has issued a new report today that outlines his belief that Google will drop its tablet-hardware-design partnership with ASUS in favor of LG.

Google has partnered with ASUS for many hardware components for the Nexus 7 in both the first-generation model and the 2013 edition. The two companies are closely knit in this regard, with Google even stamping ASUS’s logo on the rear of the 2012 model.

For 2014, Kuo says that Google will team up with LG to advance display design. Such a partnership would not exactly be unprecedented. Google and LG have worked together on the Nexus 4, Google’s current flagship smartphone. With this successful partnership on the phone side, a translation over to tablets would seem to be sensible…

Read more