Google chairman Eric Schmidt, other tech CEOs meet with Obama, NSA

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Google chariman Eric Schmidt joined a group of tech CEOs who met with the president and members of the administration today to discuss the implementation of recently-announced changes in the National Security Administration’s spying practices. Other CEOs in the group represented Facebook, Dropbox, Netflix, and more. Along with the president were several advisors and councilors, including the Deputy Director of the NSA.

The executives were updated on the status of changes to the NSA’s spying policies that were first detailed last year and continued to be further expanded upon in recent months. These CEOs were among those who signed an open letter to the federal government comdemning the unwarranted sue of spying tactics to intercept and store communications sent via various online platforms.

Earlier this week Google’s Larry Page also discussed the NSA and issues of privacy during the TED conference.

Verizon promo image suggests 1PM ET availability for new HTC One on Tuesday

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HTC is expected to finally unveil its All New HTC One at an event next Tuesday, and it looks like we won’t have to wait long at all for it to go on sale. According to an image obtained by Android Central, the device could go on sale March 25th, at 1PM ET on Verizon, which is the same day as HTC’s event.

The promo image shows an HTC One M8 decked out in the cases leaked last week and invites shoppers to “get ready to hit refresh” on March 25th at 1PM ET. HTC’s event will take place at 11AM ET the same day.

It’s unclear whether the All New HTC One will go on sale from all U.S. carriers on the 25th, or if it is just Verizon. There’s also a possibility that Verizon will only be putting the device up for pre-order that day, and that a release is scheduled for later on.

Nevertheless, it looks like we won’t have to wait long at all to get our hands on the new HTC One next week. We’ll have coverage of the event, as well, so be sure to stay tuned.

Read more

Report: Apple considering iTunes Store for Android & on-demand streaming service

iTunes Radio

According to a new report from Billboard, Apple is considering launching an iTunes Store app on the Android platform to combat declining music sales on the digital platform. The report also says that Apple execs are in talks with high level label executives to discuss debuting an on-demand streaming service.

Apple has opened exploratory talks with senior label executives about the possibility of launching an on-demand streaming service that would rival Spotify and Beats Music, according to three people familiar with the talks. Apple is also thinking about adding an iTunes App for Android phones, the Google rival that has been growing faster than the iPhone, these sources said.

The move to an on-demand streaming service could transform iTunes Radio from the Pandora-like radio model to the more robust on-demand model used by Spotify, Rdio, Beats Music, and others. Read more

Video: Larry Page discusses NSA, privacy, healthcare at TED conference

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Google CEO Larry Page made a somewhat rare public appearance this week speaking with CBS’s Charlie Rose at the TED ideas conference in Vancouver. During the conversation, Page expressed his ‘tremendous’ disappointment in the government using the NSA to conduct surveillance in secret and how that affects democracy. He noted the importance of having a conversation about privacy and democracy as Google tries to protect its users’ privacy as we share more and more information. (Video below) Read more

Sprint starts Galaxy S5 pre-orders for $199 ahead of April 11th launch

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This week both AT&T and T-Mobile have shared their launch plans for Samsung’s new flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone, and this morning Sprint has released details for its customers as well.

Starting this morning, Sprint is taking reservations in its stores to be notified of Galaxy S5 availability on April 11th. Sprint will offer the Galaxy S5 in black or white for $0/down and 24 payments of $27 through its Sprint Easy Pay plan. This offer, in conjunction with signing up with a Sprint Framily plan, includes a 7″ Galaxy Tab 3 tablet with a 2-year contract and data plan for a limited time.

Sprint is also offering pre-orders for customers purchasing the Galaxy S5 through the traditional methods for $199 after a $50 reward card redeemed via a mail-in rebate… so $249 up front. Read more

Google DNS provides workaround as Turkish government blocks access to twitter

Photo: @FindikKahve

Photo: @FindikKahve

Turkish citizens, who found access to Twitter blocked yesterday in an apparent attempt by prime minister Recep Erdoğan to stem the spread of corruption allegations against him, have been able to work around the block by switching to Google’s public DNS service.

The Turkish government blocked access to Twitter by requiring local ISPs to change the DNS entries so that twitter.com could no longer be reached. As soon as the method of blocking access was discovered, a campaign started to spread the word that it could be circumvented by changing network settings to use Google’s DNS servers at 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 (update: a comment suggests the Turkish government is blocking these addresses too) …  Read more

T-Mobile to begin Galaxy S5 pre-orders on March 24 with special introductory pricing

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T-Mobile announced today that it will begin offering pre-orders of Samsung’s next-generation Galaxy smartphone on Monday, March 24th. The phone will hit stores on April 11th, and those who pre-order will be guaranteed a phone on that day.

The company is also offering a special introductory price on the S5. For those who pre-order before March 31st, the phone will only cost 24 payments of $27.50. T-Mobile has also dropped the price of the Galaxy Tab 3 by $120 until March 31st as part of the pre-launch savings event.

The complete T-Mobile press release can be found below. Pre-orders for the Galaxy S5 will be available on the carrier’s website next week. Read more

‘Layar’ augmented reality app for Google Glass arrives in beta [Video]

For a long time the many augmented reality apps we’ve seen in various stages of development for Google Glass have just been a concept, but we’re now starting to see more and more of these apps actually launch and become available for users. The latest is Layar, a slick augmented reality app for Glass that overlays visual data about a user’s surroundings and just became available in beta.  Read more

Google will force Gmail to always use encrypted HTTPS connections from now on

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Google announced today on its blog that to make Gmail even more secure it will from now on force its web based email service to use an encrypted HTTPS connection at all times.

While Google doesn’t specifically mention the countless reports of surveillance by government agencies in recent months, it does say the change means “no one can listen in on your messages as they go back and forth between you and Gmail’s servers—no matter if you’re using public WiFi or logging in from your computer, phone or tablet.” Read more

AT&T’s Galaxy S5 pre-orders kick off tomorrow for $199 alongside Gear 2, Neo, & Gear Fit

AT&T announced today that it’s officially kicking off preorders of the Galaxy S5 tomorrow as well as Samsung’s new lineup of Gear wearables.

Starting tomorrow you’ll be able to preorder the S5 for $199.99 on AT&T’s usual two-year contract or opt for $25/month or $32.50/month payments over an 18 or 12 month period using AT&T Next. That brings AT&T’s full retail price up to $649.99 with no contract. As expected, AT&T said preorders will begin shipping in April.

In addition to Samsung’s new Galaxy S5 smartphone, AT&T will also start accepting preorders for the new Gear 2 ($299), Gear 2 Neo ($199), and Gear Fit ($199) wearables.

Samsung also let us know that it will be offering a promotion to those picking up a Galaxy S5 that will provide an $50 off the Gear 2 or Gear 2 Neo from March 21 to June 5.  Read more

Occupy Wall Street co-founder: Appoint Eric Schmidt CEO of America

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Take this for what it’s worth, but Occupy Wall Street co-founder and Google software engineer (seriously) Justine Tunney would like the feds to step aside and let the tech industry take over. The outspoken activist and Googler has proposed that the feds arrange a national vote calling on all government employees to retire and give the tech industry (not sure how this is defined or if I’d be appointed press security) all administrative authority under the leadership of would-be CEO of America Eric Schmidt.

Tunney posted the petition yesterday on the White House’s official website for such proposals. However, despite some press attention from The Guardian, her petition is drawing more laughs than signatures (assuming more than two people, myself included, have snickered at the proposal) with just two signatures at the time of writing. But hey, that’s only 99,998 signatures away from the amount required to prompt an official White House response!

The petition has one month to collect 100,000 digital signatures, but I’m thinking the White House, Eric Schmidt, and maybe even the Android robot should offer their take on this regardless of how many signatures are captured. Over the past year, we’ve been building up our collection of campaign material for a possible Eric Schmidt run as CEO of America in our Talking Schmidt series, and I couldn’t think of a more entertaining way to gather more priceless insight from the Google chairman.

Read the proposal in its entirety below and sign it here if you so desire.. Read more

Samsung confirms pricing of Gear 2 and Gear Fit as it creates video boasting design skills

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Photo: thestar.com.my

Samsung has finally confirmed pricing for the Tizen-based Galaxy Gear 2 and Gear Fit smartwatches, though still no word on pricing for the camera-less Gear 2 Neo. The Gear 2 comes in at almost the same price as the original (and widely panned) Gear at $295, while the Gear Fit can be yours for $197 when both devices go on sale next month.

Samsung made SDKs available for the Gear 2 watches a few days ago in the hope that third-party apps will be available by the time the devices go on sale …  Read more