U.S. Army & DoD move to Google Apps to go mobile and reduce costs

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Google announced today on its Enterprise blog that the U.S. Army is the latest to go Google with a new program currently rolling out Google Apps and services to over 50k members of the Army and Department of Defense.

According to Google, driving the U.S. Army’s decision to adopt Google Apps is the ability to reduce IT costs and also run Apps on multiple platforms and operating systems through the Army’s existing security and authentication requirements. Another big motivator was the added advantage of Google’s mobile apps: Read more

Google acquires FlexyCore for $23M to improve Android performance

Droid-Booster-Flexy-CoreA new report out today from French publication L’Expansion claims that Google has acquired 5-year-old startup FlexyCore, the company behind DroidBooster and other tools used to improve performance on Android devices for users, OEMs, and carriers. According to the report, which was later confirmed by Google in a statement to GigaOM, Google has been integrating the FlexyCore team into its Android projects over the last year and just completed the purchase worth approximately 21.3 million earlier this month.

“The FlexyCore team has strong expertise in building software to optimize Android device performance, and we think they’d be a great fit with our team.”

The Droid Booster app, made to optimize java code performance on Android devices, was previously distributed through Google Play but has since been removed.  Read more

New LG trademarks point to possible upcoming ChromeOS devices

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LG recently filed a few new trademarks in Australia that could indicate that the company plans to launch ChromeOS devices in the near future. The terms being trademarked include “ChromeOne,” “ChromeDesk.” and “ChromeStation.” All three trademarks were filed last week, though they seem to be moving through the approval process much faster than other trademarks filed the same day, which could mean we’ll be seeing these names soon. Google has scheduled a Google Play event for October 24th, but it’s not expected that any new hardware will be announced at that time.

LG has worked with Google on hardware in the past, including on the upcoming Nexus 5, so the idea of LG collaborating with Google on new ChromeOS hardware doesn’t seem that far-fetched.

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Google announces Maps Engine Pro, allowing small businesses to easily visualize and map data

Google announced a mapping tool for small businesses. Dubbed “Google Maps Engine Pro,” the new software allows users to easily create maps based on any set of data they want, such as sales data, client offices, and more. Along with this new product the company announced a few additional features for the standard Maps Engine. These features include a new Android app that allows users to access their data on their mobile devices, as well as tools for importing data from older systems to the Maps Engine. These features are available to users of all versions of Maps Engine.

Google has also introduced a new account type that lets users test the features of Maps Engine for free before committing to anything. The “introductory accounts” function exactly like a standard account, but limit the number of map queries allowed each day.

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BlackBerry announces BBM for Android available today with reservation system

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After the BBM apps prematurely started rolling out for iPhone and Android and were abruptly pulled late last month, BlackBerry finally confirmed today that it’s officially kicking off the roll out of the apps. In a blog post, the company announced that the BBM apps will be available for both iPhone and Android within the next few hours through the App Store, Google Play, and Samsung’s App Store:

The demand for BBM on Android and BBM on iPhone continues to be amazing. About six million people signed up for information about BBM at BBM.com. As you know, in just seven hours, about one million Android users were using the unreleased version of BBM for Android. What you don’t know is that more than one million people have found creative ways to “side load” BBM on their iPhone. This is incredible.

While the app is available to download starting today, it will utilize a staggered rollout that will see users reserving a spot in line by entering their email address. BlackBerry says users that signed up previously through its website can start using the app immediately, but we’ll have to wait to see how many people sign up today in order to estimate how long the queue will be.  Read more

AT&T expands Live TV streaming feature to U-verse Android app & Uverse.com

After rolling out a new Live TV streaming feature to its U-verse iPhone and iPad apps earlier this month, AT&T announced today that it’s expanding the feature to Android  devices and other users through Uverse.com. The feature, which brings over 100 live TV channels at home and 20 channels outside of the house for U-verse subscribers, comes to the U-verse Android app alongside a new version of the app for Androdi tablets.

AT&T’s press release says the service is now available on over 30 Android devices and the updated U-verse app for Android is available on Google Play now. The updated app also includes “new ratings-based Parental Controls” and more: Read more

Vic Gundotra hints new Hangouts for Android coming soon, urges Android users to get along with iOS users

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When Google rolled out a big new update for iOS on Friday, it introduced incoming and outgoing voice calls through Google Voice and number of other new features for the app. Android users made it clear that they weren’t exactly happy that they didn’t receive an update, but since Google’s Vic Gundotra responded with a hint that a new Android version of Hangouts is on the way.

In a comment responding to complaints from Android users on Google+, Gundotra hints at upcoming announcements for Android saying, “I promise you will be happy soon.”

He also asked Android users to not get upset when the company releases iOS products and urged Android and iOS users to get along with each other. “There are a lot of them. And they are good people.”

Gundotra’s full comment is below: Read more

Google closing up Android to stem fragmentation, defend against competitors and *gasp* make money

An interesting story from Ars Techinca examines the state of Android as an open source project and how Google is attempting to better control fragmentation of the platform. According to the report, Google is moving to help maintain its control over the platform from competing companies like Amazon and others that are using Android but forgoing Google’s services. The result, according to the report, is Google will bring more aspects of Android out of the Android Open Source Project and designate them Google services:

Google has always given itself some protection against alternative versions of Android. What many people think of as “Android” actually falls into two categories: the open parts from the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), which are the foundation of Android, and the closed source parts, which are all the Google-branded apps. While Google will never go the entire way and completely close Android, the company seems to be doing everything it can to give itself leverage over the existing open source project.

Google search has long been a victim of moving away from AOSP, and the recent introduction of Google Play Music means Google is no longer updating its AOSP music app either. Ars notes that Calendar is the most recent app to move to closed source, while the Google Keyboard and Camera appear are moving in the same direction. The screenshots above show AOSP versions of the app mentioned above vs Google’s latest closed source versions. You’ll notice that Google tends to abandon the AOSP versions of the apps once relaunching them under the closed sourced Google services banner.

What does this mean for Android going forward? Google is making life much harder for Amazon and other third-party manufacturers that want to build a competing version of Android without Google’s services… Read more

Shipping today: Kindle HDX 7-inch tablet ups the ante for those deep into the Amazon ecosystem

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Everything about the new Kindle HDX is better than the previous HD version. The screen is brighter and has more pixels. It is lighter, thinner, has a better case, and has an improved OS. The buttons are now around the back vs. on either side (which takes a few reps to get used to). You can now jump down to the apps in much similar way to what you can in a normal Android tablet.

But that’s the problem. The OS just isn’t as good as the one you’ll find on the Nexus 7 with similar specs. And with the Nexus 7 you’ll get Google’s extremely productive Google Apps including Google Now, Google Maps, Gmail, Translate, and on and on. With the Kindle line you get a lot of nice apps, including many of the more popular ones like Facebook, Hulu, Netflix.  But you don’t get any of the long tail apps you get from the Google Play Store, and that’s kind of a bummer.

Also, I’m personally not feeling the Mayday feature. It was probably awesome when there were only 20 reviewers getting service, but I had to wait on hold for around 10 minutes before I could talk to someone – for me, that’s not worth it. Your mileage will vary, obviously.

Amazon has a ton of good content including a very passable App selection, full music and movie libraries, and of course tons of ebooks.  If you are okay with just Amazon, then you are looking at the best tablet you can find.  If you want more, then head over to Google Play. Pricing options below. 

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16 GB Nexus 5 appears on Google Play for $349 (high-res photo)

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A listing appeared in the Google Play Store this evening for the Nexus 5, but was pulled just moments later. The listing puts the device’s price at $349 for the 16 GB model. Apparently the page went live prematurely but the can probably be expected to launch some time in the near future. A high-resolution press shot is available below.

The device has also been spotted in white today in leaked shots allegedly showing packaging for the Nexus 5.

via Engadget

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Press images of Telus-branded Nexus 5 leak, show redesigned Kit Kat launcher

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We’ve heard a lot about the upcoming Nexus 5 over the past couple of weeks, and now we have some  supposed press renders of the device, courtesy of Mobile Syrup. The press images show what appears to be the Nexus 5 for Canadian carrier Telus.  In terms of design, the images don’t show too much that we didn’t already know. You can see that the volume rocker is located on the left hand side of the device, while the power button is on the right. Above the display is a circular speaker, in addition to the front-facing camera.

The renders do, however, give us a very clear look at the Android 4.4 Kit Kat home screen design and layout. The notification bar is now transparent and all of the icons are white, while the dock is much simpler and houses  camera, Chrome, Hangouts, and Phone shortcuts.

While missing in this image, Android 4.4 is also expected to introduce a transparent app drawer, meaning that you will see your wallpaper instead of a black background. Also new are dots to indicate the amount of home screens you have set up, similar to what we’ve seen on iOS for years.

The Nexus 5 is expected to be unveiled later this month, and according to several reports, will cost $299 and $399 for 16GB and 32GB of storage, respectively.  Read more