Regulatory filing suggests Samsung S4 Active Mini on the way

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The images are rather blurry and lacking in detail, but a regulatory filing spotted by Chinese site Tenaa of a handset described by Samsung as the GT-I8580 looks rather like a smaller version of the S4 Active, reports Engadget.

Visually, it looks like the chunky Galaxy S4 Active, what with its return to physical buttons and a fairly robust (and cheaper looking) case. Aside from that there’s little to go on, although that model number has previously been associated with a benchmarked phone featuring a 4.65-inch display with a low-end 480 x 800 resolution …  Read more

Android 4.4 KitKat leaked document indicates boosts for low-end hardware, wearables

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Amir Efrati reports that Google has been working to make Android 4.4, codenamed KitKat, work on as many devices as possible, according to a leaked internal document. Those devices would include low-end smartphones with limited RAM, wearable devices such as smartwatches, smart TVs, and anything else that needs to run an operating system.

Google has reportedly been working with developers of smartphones at the lower end of the hardware spectrum to ensure that KitKat uses its resources wisely, essentially allowing it to run on a variety of phones that may not have been able to run Jelly Bean. If Google can overcome limited hardware to put KitKat—and future versions of Android—on every new device that ships and many that are already available, the company finally stands a chance of defeating the fragmented experience that has long plagued users and software developers alike.

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Growth of Android tablet sales in Q3 cut Apple’s market share to less than 30%

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In IDC’s report released today covering worldwide tablet market for the third quarter, the research firm notes that the market as a whole continues to grow thanks to strong growth from Android tablets. Apple shipments remained steady during the quarter compared to last year at 14 million units in Q3, but its share of the market drops from 40.2% last year to just 29.6% this year as Samsung, Asus, Lenovo, and Acer all post significant growth for the quarter compared to the same quarter last year.

Samsung is up from 12.4% last year to 20.4% of the tablet market in Q3 2013 (a 123% increase), while Asus is up 53.9% to 3.5 million units, Lenovo sold 2.3m (up 420.7%), and Acer 1.2M (up 346.3%):

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NSA allegedly tapped itself into Google servers, collecting millions of user records

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According to the Washington Post, the NSA has “infiltrated” the servers belonging to both Google and Yahoo and is collecting records of user-data:

According to a top secret accounting dated Jan. 9, 2013, NSA’s acquisitions directorate sends millions of records every day from Yahoo and Google internal networks to data warehouses at the agency’s Fort Meade headquarters. In the preceding 30 days, the report said, field collectors had processed and sent back 181,280,466 new records — ranging from “metadata,” which would indicate who sent or received e-mails and when, to content such as text, audio and video.

Earlier this year, claims emerged that said the NSA has been working lawfully via a “PRISM” program to legally intercept data from the servers of technology companies. This new information, however, seems to indicate that the NSA is obtaining the information via its own means.

In order for the data centers to operate effectively, they synchronize high volumes of information about account holders. Yahoo’s internal network, for example, sometimes transmits entire e-mail archives — years of messages and attachments — from one data center to another.

Tapping the Google and Yahoo clouds allows the NSA to intercept communications in real time and to take “a retrospective look at target activity,” according to one internal NSA document.

In order to obtain free access to data center traffic, the NSA had to circumvent gold standard security measures. Google “goes to great lengths to protect the data and intellectual property in these centers,” according to one of the company’s blog posts, with tightly audited access controls, heat sensitive cameras, round-the-clock guards and biometric verification of identities.

Google and Yahoo have both responded to today’s claims with surprise, noting that it does not hand data to the NSA.

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Ashton Kutcher takes product engineering job at Lenovo, announces new Android Yoga tablets w/ 18hr battery

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Actor Ashton Kutcher has joined Lenovo as a product engineer. Kutcher’s experience in engineering includes… basically nothing, although he did play Steve Jobs in the 2013 biopic Jobs, so that has to count for something, right? Right?

Kutcher’s first job at Lenovo will be using his celebrity status to market the company’s new Android-powered “Yoga” tablet—an obvious first step for any aspiring product engineer (or, you know, celebrity endorser). The tablet, which Kutcher presumably had some “engineering” input on, is a flat aluminum enclosure with a rounded base that houses the power button. The Yoga is an attempt at an original body design, and it certainly wins points in that category as long as you only compare it to other tablets. When compared to other electronics, however, the originality quickly fades. The thing basically looks like an upside-down Apple Wireless Keyboard.

The rounded base acts as a built-in stand of sorts and provides 3 viewing modes and the tablets feature Quad Core processors, 16 or 32GB of built-in storage, front-facing speakers, 5MP rear cameras, microSD slot, and 1280 x 800 displays. Lenovo will sell 8 and 10-inch models in WiFi and 3G variants of the Yoga for $249 and $299 starting Oct. 30 with the 8-inch model coming exclusively to Best Buy stores.

Clearly Kutcher’s time as Steve Jobs informed his sense of product design and influenced the hard work he did “engineering” the Yoga.  We look forward to seeing what other innovative and original ideas Kutcher “engineers” during his time at Lenovo.

Legality of driving with Google Glass questioned as Californian woman ticketed

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The legality of driving while wearing Google Glass appears set to face its first test after Glass Explorer Cecilia Abade was ticketed by a California cop.

 A cop just stopped me and gave me a ticket for wearing Google Glass while driving!

The exact line says: Driving with Monitor visible to Driver (Google Glass). Is #GoogleGlass  illgal while driving or is this cop wrong???

Any legal advice is appreciated!! This happened in California. Do you know any other #GlassExplorers that got a similar ticket anywhere in the US?  Read more

Google shows off second gen Google Glass w/ mono earbud coming later this year

After announcing yesterday that Google Glass hardware would be revised later this year and offered to current Glass Explorers interested in swapping to a newer unit, Google today gives us a look at the second generation Glass in the images above posted to Google+.

On top of introducing a new mono earbud instead of only the bone-vibrating speaker included in the first generation Glass, Google said the hardware revision will also make Glass compatible with new lines of sunglasses and prescription frames and Explorers will have their choice of colors when they swap sometime later this year.

Google hinted it will begin the first steps of the exchange program in November and will give users 60 days to make the swap. Explorers are still the only ones that can get their hands on the $1500 Google Glass, but Google recently started letting users invite up to three friends to join the program and will now ship Glass to those that join.

Those who purchased Glass before October 28, 2013 will be eligible for the upgrade. Google didn’t mention if there would be any fee associated with swapping to a newer unit, but it will notify those eligible automatically next month.  Read more

‘Moto G’ makes brief appearance on Motorola website

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Droid life spotted an update the the Moto X site which includes a temporary/now removed “Moto G” Menu item.  The “G” has appeared in trademark applications and it is speculated to either be a smaller “Mini” version of the X, a Google Play version of the X or something entirely different – like an accessory.

The fact that it hit the website probably means we wont have to wait terribly long to find out.

For the record, we’ve heard Google/Motorola is working on some pretty cool stuff including a set “smart headphones”. Read more

Google donates 17,000 Nexus 7 tablets to those affected by Superstorm Sandy 1 year ago

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The state of New York announced that Google donated 17,000 Nexus 7 tablets on the one year anniversary of the tragic Superstorm Sandy.  The $2.7 million worth of Nexus 7s (/17,000=$158/ea=v1) are likely to go to community centers, training programs and libraries:

  • Libraries will use the tablets in job training, work skills and English-for-Speakers-of-Other-Languages classes, and as e-reader loaners in the areas where libraries are not yet reopened
  • Small business development organizations plan to integrate tablets into onsite business assistance and training classes. The organizations will also provide assistance to a high school entrepreneurship program run in about 30 underserved schools in New York City by New York State Small Business Development Centers.
  • To help combat senior isolation, senior centers will employ tablets in teaching seniors to use video chatting and other electronic communication services as a way to keep them connected to their friends and families.
  • Community centers will be able to use tablets in their programs to move young people living in poverty towards STEM and other high-skilled careers, as well as to assist their parents gain and improve technology-based job skills.

New York Politicians and former New York Politicians who now work for Google had nice things to say:

“It has been almost a year since New York went through the worst natural disaster in our history but for many of our state’s residents who are still building back the generosity of companies like Google can make a huge difference,” Governor Cuomo said. “Private donations like these are critical in aiding local communities in our ongoing recovery. We thank Google for helping New York build back better than before.”

“Google is proud to partner with Governor Cuomo and the New York State Community Action Agencies on this hardware donation,” said former New York Congresswoman Susan Molinari, Vice President for Government Relations at Google. “We believe that technology can and does play a compelling role in rebuilding communities to make them more resilient and stronger. Increasingly, more and more people are using technology and the internet to educate themselves or provide for their families. Our hope is that these tablets will be a resource to do just that.”

“I applaud Google and Governor Cuomo for coordinating a donation that focuses on strengthening our communities,” said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales, who Governor Cuomo placed as Hurricane Sandy Donations Coordinator. “The New York Department of State is proud to have played a role in assisting Google in this donation.”

More details in the press release below: Read more

Numbers from Google+ event: 540m active users, 300m active in stream, 1.5b photos upload weekly

During Google’s Morning with Google+ event today, the company announced some new features coming to its Hangouts and Google+ apps, but it also gave us an update on growth in recent months since last checking in at Google I/O. Here are the notable numbers shared by Google’s Vic Gundotra during this morning’s event:

-540m active users across Google (signed in via Google+), up from 390m since Google I/O

-300m active users in the stream, up from 190m at Google+

-1.5 billion photos uploaded every week

-20x increase in video uploads

-Shipping new version of Google+ almost every day

-20 feature launches in last 4 months, 18 this morning

-1000 new terms recognized by Google’s computer vision for searching untagged photos

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Google shows off new Auto-Awesome & Auto-Enhance features for Google+

On top of the updates to Hangouts today, Google also announced some new features for Google+ today during its event in the form of new Auto Awesome features. As highlighted in the video above, Google’s new Auto-Awesome features include Action, Eraser, and Movie:

Auto Awesome can help bring your story to life in creative ways. Today we’re adding three new techniques:

  • Action. Maybe it’s your child’s first gymnastic meet, or you’re skateboarding with a friend. Action can take their tumble or half pipe trick, and create a strobe-effect photograph.
  • Eraser. When you’re taking pictures of landmarks, people and cars often get in the way. Eraser can take a sequence of these photos, and erase whatever’s moving to give you a “cleaner” image.
  • Movie. Movie produces highlight reels from your photos and videos—complete with effects, transitions and a soundtrack—automatically. You can share the movie as is, or dive into the editing process to customize even further.

Google also noted that its Auto-Enhance feature for photos now has low and high settings and can now be applied on an album by album basis. Lastly, it showed off a new Snapseed filter- HDR Scape- that it says is the first time anyone is offering a true HDR feature on a mobile device and also added Analog Efex Pro to the Nik Collection. Head below for a full roundup of what Google announced today: Read more

Google adds location sharing, animated GIFs to Hangouts, integrates SMS

Today during its “A Morning with Google+” event, Google announced some updates for its Google+ service on top of sharing some improvements to Hangouts. Perhaps the biggest new feature that was announced during the event this morning is the integration of SMS into the Hangouts app, something that many user have speculated would arrive in Android 4.4 KitKat, the next version of Android expected in the near future.

Another new feature that Google announced today was location sharing, which allows users to click a small icon before posting to Google+ to add their location. Finally, Google’s Vic Gundotra announced that Google+ will now support animated GIFs.

Google also announced some new features for Hangouts on Air today, including the ability to plan a future Hangout. That will give users a dedicated landing page for the upcoming Hangout in order easier promote it, and Google has new tools that allow users to manage users in an active Hangout. It also announced that it is flipping the switch on HD full screen video calls across all devices and new auto-awesome tools. Those tools will provide auto-correction features, but also creative features that allow users to flip on different filters during a live video chat.

In addition, Google noted today that it has added 1000 new terms into its deep learning algorithms that allow users to search for visual content on Google+ even when the photos or videos aren’t tagged with your specific search query. Google has a roundup of all today’s announcements on its blog here.

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