Google preparing to open ‘Android Nation’ retail stores in India

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Back in February, we reported that Google was preparing to open its own retail stores by the end of the year in order to allow consumers to try Nexus, Chrome and even potentially more experimental products like Google Glass. According to a report today from The Economic Times, Google is in the process of opening new “Android Nation” retail stores in attempt to increase its exposure in India:

The US company will partner BK Modi’s Spice Global to set up the stores in various Indian cities, starting with New Delhi later this year. Like other such stores in Indonesia, each Android Nation store will promote and sell Android smartphones and tablets across multiple brands like Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG and Asus, to name a few. The first Indian store will open in New Delhi’s Select Citywalk, a person with direct knowledge of the situation informed ET. Google has been scouting for a 1,200-1,500 sq ft location for this store.

It actually won’t be the first time Google has opened up an Android Nation retail store. As noted in the report, Google also operates two locations in Jakarta, Indonesia through a partnership with Indonesian electronics retailer Erafone.

Google’s new efforts won’t just hit India, there are also apparently plans to expand into the Middle East, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Africa with the help of partner Spice Global. The company will also turn 50 of its 900 Spice Hotspots into Android Nation locations to expedite the expansion. Read more

Former Apple hardware engineer’s ‘Black Pearl’ startup working on Android tablet/cloud solution for TV?

black-pearl-feature-art-e1371662676749You probably haven’t yet heard of Black Pearl: a new startup run by former Apple hardware guru Tim Bucher and a number of former execs from Netflix, YouTube, Intel, Amazon, and others. GigaOM gives us some details on the new company, which it thinks is currently working on an Android tablet and TV cloud solution of sorts.

According to the report, the team is currently working on a tablet that is likely Android-based in addition to a companion device that will act connect TVs to the cloud and allow users to stream content. The report adds that the company is also developing apps for iOS, Android, PCs, and Macs. Add in that the company has registered for trademarks such as “home data center”, “Data Mesh”, and “Lyve”, and GigaOM thinks Black Pearl could be working on a home entertainment platform that works alongside a dedicated tablet: Read more

Google’s top legal chief says the company is not ‘in cahoots’ with the NSA

David Drummond, Google's top legal chief

David Drummond, Google’s top legal chief

A lot of false facts were spread around when the original news regarding the NSA’s relationship with technology companies broke. Since then, Google, Apple, and other others have been on a mission to repair their public image. In an interview with the Guardian, Google’s top legal chief reaffirmed the fact that the company is not “in cahoots” with the NSA, nor does it give the government direct access to its servers.

“We’re not in cahoots with the NSA and there is no government programme that Google participates in that allows the kind of access that the media originally reported,” David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, said. “There is no free-for-all, no direct access, no indirect access, no back door, no drop box,” Drummond reaffirmed.

“We didn’t know [Prism] existed,” he said, suggesting that Google was just as surprised by the leaked reports as citizens were. Read more

Feedly launches new cloud backend & web interface, hits 12M users ahead of Google Reader demise

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Following Google’s announcement that its RSS Reader product would be retired on July 1st, apps like Feedly that relied on the Google Reader backend announced big plans to help itself and other apps through the transition. Feedly has been preparing its move to its own “feedly cloud” back end since the announcement, and earlier this month transitioned its own iOS client to the platform. Today, Feedly is officially launching the new back end and API, as well as a brand new web interface and the first apps to integrate the feedly cloud platform:

As of today, feedly cloud is now live, providing a fast and scalable infrastructure that serves as the backbone to feedly, as well as a number of connected applications. Feedly cloud is open today to all users visiting http://feedly.com, providing a simple one-click migration path from Google Reader.  And thanks to the great developer community that has gathered around it, providing multiple safe and sound alternatives to Google Reader.  With the release of feedly cloud, feedly today transitions from a product to a platform. We are also today delivering a new, completely stand-alone Web version of feedly.

On top of the new API and feedly cloud back end, the company is also delivering on one of the most requested features for the service: a standalone new web interface that doesn’t require any plugins or browser extensions. Read more

Google’s Waze acquisition could be in danger because of risky filing tactics

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The idea that Google could lose ownership of Waze less than ten days after buying it for a rumored billion dollars might sound incredible, but that’s the intriguing possibility raised by a law professor from Ohio State University writing in the New York Times.

The law requires companies to make what’s known as a Hart-Scott-Rodino filing for any intended acquisition so that the proposed deal can be checked for anti-trust issues before it takes place. Google apparently didn’t make this filing.

According to a person close to Google, the company skipped the Hart-Scott-Rodino filing by relying on an exemption. This filing is not required if the acquisition is of a foreign company that has sales and assets in the United States of less than $60.9 million. Waze is an Israeli company with headquarters in Silicon Valley, so it comes under this test.

Waze probably doesn’t have $50 million in revenue worldwide, yet the test also looks at assets. Given that Waze is worth $1 billion, it is hard to see that the value of its intellectual property in the United States business doesn’t meet the test. And the F.T.C. has previously indicated that companies should include this type of intellectual property in informal guidance …  Read more

HTC announces Butterfly S with 5-inch display, UltraPixel camera

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HTC this morning announced the Butterfly S, the successor the the Butterfly flagship that launched in the fall of 2012. The device carries many of the same traits as the HTC One, however. It is packing the same 4MP UltraPixel sensor as the One, but has a slightly larger Super LCD 3 5-inch display with a 1080p resolution. It’s using the same front-facing Boom Sound speakers as the One that were praised so highly. The device is powered by a 1.9GHz Snapdragon 600 processor with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, a microSD card, and a rather large 3200mAh battery.

The Butterfly S was announced at a localized event in Taiwan (via Engadget), so U.S. availability still remains up in the air. In the local market, the device will sell for NT $22,900, which is about $765 USD, and be available sometime in July. Assuming Verizon at some point releases its One variant, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Butterfly S come to Big Red as a successor to the DROID DNA.  Read more

Data-protection authorities in five countries raise Google Glass privacy concerns with the company

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Data-protection authorities in Australia, Canada, Israel, Mexico and New Zealand have written a joint letter to Google CEO Larry Page expressing concerns about Google Glass, and asking the company eight specific questions about the product, reports ZDNet.

As you have undoubtedly noticed, Google Glass has been the subject of many articles that have raised concerns about the obvious, and perhaps less obvious, privacy implications of a device that can be worn by an individual and used to film and record audio of other people.  Fears of ubiquitous surveillance of individuals by other individuals, whether through such recordings or through other applications currently being developed, have been raised.  Questions about Google’s collection of such data and what it means in terms of Google’s revamped privacy policy have also started to appear …  Read more

Samsung, HTC & Apple considering liquid-cooled phones (rumor)

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Digitimes is not a source noted for its hit-rate, but its claim that Samsung, HTC and Apple are all considering liquid-cooled phones isn’t quite as far-fetched as it sounds: NEC has already launched one.

Smartphone players such as Apple, Samsung Electronics and High Tech Computer (HTC) have started showing interest in adopting ultra-thin heat pipes for their smartphones and are expected to release heat pipe-adopted models in the fourth quarter, at the earliest, according to sources from cooling module player.

The NEC Medias X 06 E launched last month in Japan was nicknamed the ladyphone, as it was designed to appeal to women who apparently complained about the heat generated by smartphones. The phone itself was nothing special – a 1.7Ghz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 4.7-inch display – it is the cooling that made it stand out …  Read more

Google wishes to clear its name after NSA crisis, claims First Amendment protects it

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

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

Last week, we reported on a letter Google had sent to the U.S. government in which it asked for the release of national security request data. A week later, the company is now asking for the secretive Foreign Intelligence Court to lift a gag order, claiming that it has the constitutional right to clear its name after openly discussing government data requests.

A Google spokesperson says the company is asking the court to let it “publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately,” because “lumping national security requests together with criminal requests – as some companies have been permitted to do – would be a backward step for our users.” Google is essentially asking for more leeway to describe its relationship with the government following the NSA leak two weeks ago. It wants to publish the total numbers of requests the court makes and which users are affected. The company says that the First Amendment gives it the right to disclose the information it is forced to hand over to the government.

The full statement from Google follows:
Read more

Huawei reportedly considering Nokia acquisition

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According to a new report out of the Financial Times, Huawei is considering buying Finnish smartphone manufacturer Nokia. Richard Yu, Huawei’s consumer business group chairman explained at the company’s Ascend P6 launch event that Huawei is looking into the acquisition, but how far negotiations go would depend on the willingness of Nokia. “We are considering these sorts of acquisitions; maybe the combination has some synergies but depends on the willingness of Nokia. We are open-minded,” Yu stated.

Huawei is not a household name here in the United States when it comes to smartphones, most likely due to the company’s shaky relationship with the U.S. government, but Yu says the company is certainly looking to take on the likes of Samsung and Apple, and having Nokia behind it would definitely be helpful.  Read more

Google search adds interactive carousel for restaurants & local places on desktop

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Google announced today that it is rolling out a new interactive carousel for restaurants and other local places directly in search results on the desktop. Users will be able to click on thumbnails in the carousel to quickly get more info on a specific place, including: “overall review-based score, address and photos.” The feature was previously available to some Nexus tablet and iPad users since rolling out back in December, but today it’s rolling out to everyone through Google search on the desktop: Read more

Google celebrates 10th anniversary of AdSense, says its 2M publishers earned $7B last year

As we told you last week, Google’s ad business brings in a lot of money, and today, it will celebrate the ten year anniversary of one of its most successful platforms to date. In a post on the official Google blog, Susan Wojcicki, Google’s SVP of ads and commerce, announced that ten years ago today, the company launched AdSense to help publishers earn money by placing ads on their websites. Fast forward 10 years and AdSense is now used by more than 2 million publishers, who earned a combined total of more than $7 billion last year alone.

Google touts that people have been able to live their dream job thanks to the money AdSense gets them. Read more