‘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

Read more

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.

Read more

Google launching ‘Helpouts’ Hangout-based tutoring service to the public on Nov. 5

 

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Back in August Google announced a new closed beta service called Helpouts that would allow users to offer free and paid tutoring and learning services over Google+ Hangout video chats. Google would allow users to sign up as experts, and others could use the service to get help from experts in real-time over video chat. Google had been inviting experts slowing to prepare for when the service goes live, and today we’ve received a tip that the service will officially be launching on Nov. 5.

Android Police says a trusted source tipped them – we got the same tip – see anon screenshot below. As you can see in the email, Google has been preparing experts by giving them private access to the service and plans on officially launching the service next week on Nov. 5. Google is already accepting signs ups through its Helpouts page and allowing users to access the still close beta through invitation codes.  Read more

Facebook announces it will revamp Messenger apps with new design, phone number integration

In line with my report from earlier this month, Facebook has announced that it will be revamping its Android and iOS Messenger apps. As we previously noted, the new apps have an entirely new design that is flatter and distinct from the standard Facebook application on Android and iOS. The Verge was given a preview of the Android version has some new features besides the new design:

In terms of functionality, there are a host of under-the-hood improvements to make sending and receiving messages faster, says product manager Peter Martinazzi. There are also some front-end tweaks that makes the app faster — especially on Android, where the SMS texting feature, which let you text friends who don’t have Facebook, has been removed.

The highlight feature, however, of the new apps is phone number integration. The repot summarizes the functionality as a WhatsApp competitor:

While Facebook won’t let you text a phone number from Messenger, the company plans to use phone numbers in a new way: to identify its users, just like in WhatsApp. Upon opening Messenger for the first time, it will ask you to provide your phone number. Then, the app can match you with people whose numbers you have, but whom you aren’t Facebook friends with. Facebook guarantees your messages will reach somebody’s inbox if you have their phone number.

The Android version is available as a test with a limited number of users beginning today and on iOS in the future. Also incoming, we previously reported, are updates to the main Facebook app that integrate Graph Search, but Facebook has not confirmed this as of yet.

Read more

Motorola’s ATAP team plans to make modular phones as well as cartoons – we’re just not sure why

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We’re not quite sure which of  Motorola’s Advanced Technology And Products (ATAP) team projects seems less likely: a cartoon mouse and sombrero, or teaming up with PhoneBloks to explore the possibility of a modular smartphone. Motorola’s version of the concept is called Ara.

Project Ara is developing a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software [...]

To give you the power to decide what your phone does, how it looks, where and what it’s made of, how much it costs, and how long you’ll keep it …  Read more

Report: Samsung ships 120m mobile phones in Q3, more than Apple, Nokia, & LG combined

Strategy Analytics is out today with its latest report covering mobile phone shipments globally during Q3 2013. According to the report, Samsung continues its lead as among mobile phone shipments as total shipments grew 7 percent to approximately 418 million units during the quarter. With Apple reporting 33.8m iPhone units during its earning call yesterday, the report estimates that Samsung was able to ship a record 120.1 million units, up around 17% since last year. That would mean it shipped more units than Nokia, Apple, and LG combined for a record 29 percent of the market during the quarter:

Solid demand for the new Note 3 phablet and for mass-market devices like the Galaxy Y helped to lift Samsung’s volumes. Nokia shipped a slightly better-than-expected 64.6 million mobile phones worldwide in Q3 2013. Nokia’s 15 percent global mobile phone marketshare is showing signs of stabilizing sequentially as demand for the Microsoft Lumia smartphone range is improving. However, Nokia’s feature phone unit remains a problem-child as global volumes dipped -27% year-over-year.”

Keep in mind that these estimates include feature phones, which currently make up around 40% of all shipments. Compare Samsung’s 120.1 million units with 64.6 million mobile phones shipped by Nokia, 33.8m by Apple, and 18.3 million by LG, which of course includes feature phones in addition to smartphones for every company except Apple.

Coming in fifth was Huawei with 14.6 million units, but the report doesn’t take into account shipped vs sold or share any break down of feature phones vs smartphone sales.  In comparison, IDC put out its report today of smartphone market share globally with Samsung on top at 80.2 million units in Q3, Apple with its 33.8M, Huawei in third with 12.5M units, Lenovo with 12.3M, and LG with 12M: Read more

Watch the full Samsung Developer Conference keynote (Video)

Yesterday the first day of Samsung’s first annual developer conference was held in San Francisco and now the full video of the company’s opening keynote is available to stream. The company showed off a number of new products and tools for developers, including an enhanced mobile SDK, new features for its Smart TV SDK 5.0 beta, a new Enterprise SDK beta, as well as a new Multiscreen SDK and Multiscreen Gaming SDK. The full keynote presentation is embedded above, but you can also check out Samsung’s YouTube channel and the playlist embedded below for a number of videos from the various developer sessions held during day one yesterday.  Read more

Motorola hires Pixar moviemakers to allow Moto X owners to peek into virtual world

After teasing something called Windy Day for a few days, Motorola launched it this morning exclusively on Moto X handsets, under a red sombrero icon.

A mouse, a red hat, a windy day and a smile. This is a new kind of story. Made by Motorola and [Oscar-winning Pixar movie director] Jan Pinkava. Brought to life only on the Moto X.

Described as the ability to tell interactive stories in real-time, Windy Day effectively turns the phone’s display into a pair of binoculars, peering into a cartoon world. To follow the action in the cartoon, you move your phone left, right, up and down …  Read more