ASUS joining the Google TV game with ‘Qube’ USB-dongle

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ASUS has played a somewhat important role in the Android ecosystem that includes its Nexus 7 endeavor with none other than Google. The Taiwan-based company looks to go further, as Engadget spotted a Federal Communications Commission filing this weekend that exposed its plan to release a Google TV device. The FCC approved ASUS’ new adapter, dubbed the “Qube”, which is not really like any other Google TV device we’ve seen before. The Qube is more Roku-like, acting as a USB dongle that could pair with an Android-based smartphone and separate keyboard or touchpad.

Source: Engadget, FCC

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Google buys self-serve package pickup startup BufferBox

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As noted by a blog post on the BufferBox blog and a report from the FinancialPost, Google confirmed today it has acquired two-year-old self-serve package pickup startup, Buffer Box, for an undisclosed sum. The Waterloo, Ontario based startup was previously working out of the Communitech Hub startup incubator, located downstairs from Google’s Waterloo offices.

FinancialPost explained how the BufferBox service works:

BufferBox’s service provides users with temporary lockers in central locations which can accept packages sent by online retailers. Users sign up for a BufferBox address, which is provided to the online merchant. When a parcel arrives at one of BufferBox’s self-serve kiosks, the users receives an email and can pick up their package using a one-time-use code. The locker can then be used to store a package from another user.

As for what Google plans to do with the company, Google Waterloo engineering director Steve Woods told FinancialPost it would “keep doing BufferBox” while saying there “real exciting space beyond this amazing start with boxes, and the idea of touching consumers as part of their end-to-end experience is something we’re going to explore together.”

Back in October we heard Google was testing a same-delivery service in San Francisco and even had plans to use self-driving cars in the pilot program. BufferBox could possibly play a role in Google’s future delivery services.

The BufferBox team, including founders Mike McCauley, Aditya Bali and Jay Shah, had this to say on the company’s blog: Read more

Google promotes Speak2Tweet for Syrians without internet access

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Google made an announcement on its official Europe Blog today to confirm it is reactivating the Speak2Tweet service following Internet access being completely shut off in Syria yesterday. It originally launched the service two years ago to allow Egyptians without Internet access to send tweets using only a voice connection. Google noted in the post that since yesterday its “transparency Report has shown that Internet access is completely cut off in Syria.”

For those interested in using the service… Google explained:

Unfortunately we are hearing reports that mobile phones and landlines aren’t working properly either. But those who might be lucky enough to have a voice connection can still use Speak2Tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+90 212 339 1447 or +30 21 1 198 2716 or +39 06 62207294 or +1 650 419 4196), and the service will tweet the message… No Internet connection is required, and people can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to twitter.com/speak2tweet.

Motorola ATRIX HD Developer Edition now available for $459.99 shipping 12/16, featuring unlockable bootloader

After announcing the ATRIX HD Developer Edition earlier this month, the folks at Motorola have made it available on their website for $459.99 off-contract this evening. This edition of the Atrix HD is sure to appease the tinkerers in the crowd, as it lets you get past the locked bootloader to take advantage of the possibilities an unlocked bootloader makes available. The Developer Edition released today offers the same specifications as the Atrix HD available through carriers for $99 on two-year contract. Motorola warns that this device is “not for the faint of heart” and that “warranties will be voided” The device ships the week of 12/16.

Source: Motorola

Google updates Google Drive app with spreadsheet editing and more productivity tweaks

Google just updated the Google Drive app for Android and iOS.

The app’s most noteworthy new feature is the ability to edit spreadsheets, just like Google Docs. The Drive Team elaborated on the latest update via the official Google Drive blog:

From the Drive app on your iPhone, iPad or Android device, you can create a new spreadsheet or edit an existing one. You can switch fonts, resize columns, sort data, and more. And just like on your computer, you’ll be able to see other people’s edits in real time as they’re made.

The newest version also boasts improved text formatting when pasting, while Android users can exclusively edit text within tables in documents and add a homescreen shortcut to any file in Drive.

The full changelog (on Google Play):

  • Edit Google spreadsheets in new native editor
  • Edit contents of tables in Google Docs editor
  • Formatting is maintained when copy/pasting within Google Docs
  • Single tap to enter edit mode in Google Docs editor
  • Add a shortcut to Drive files/folders to your homescreen for quick access
  • Send Link now supports copying link to clipboard

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Google exec reveals Incentive Targeting acquisition

Google just acquired coupon firm and platform Incentive Targeting.

The deal closed for an unknown amount at this time, but 9to5Google contacted Google for a comment, as the last unconfirmed —and false—acquisition created quite a stir in the tech blogosphere, and will update accordingly.

TechCrunch first noted that Mike Dudas, Google’s emerging business lead for mobile commerce, confirmed the news today via a Tweet on Twitter, and he further revealed the buyout will “power highly targeted manufacturer and private label coupon programs.”

Update: A Google spokesperson just confirmed the acquisition to 9to5Google:

“We look forward to working with Incentive Targeting in our ongoing efforts to help consumers save time and money and enable retailers deliver relevant discounts to the right customers.”

The full press release posted to Incentive Targeting’s website is below.

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Bing compares Google Shopping to Ebenezer Scrooge in ‘Don’t Get Scroogled’ campaign

Microsoft loves to launch ad campaigns against its No. 1 enemy, Google, and now it is embarking on yet another for Christmastime, called “Don’t Get Scroogled“, that places the Google Shopping experience under a microscope.

Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, lambasted Google today and alerted consumers of Mountain View’s pay-to-rank system for shopping results. Here’s an excerpt from the “Don’t Get Scroogled: Bing Launches Campaign for Honest Search to Help Shoppers this Holiday Season” blog post on Bing’s community website:

“Specifically, we want to alert you to what Google has done with their shopping site right in time for Christmas. Instead of showing you the most relevant shopping search results for the latest coffee maker you’re looking to buy mom, Google Shopping now decides what to show you – and how prominently to display what product offers they show — based partially on how much the merchant selling the product has paid them. Merchants can literally pay to improve their chances to display their product offers higher than others inside of Google’s shopping “search,” even if it’s not better or cheaper for the consumer. The result of this new “pay-to-rank” system is that it’s easy for consumers to mistake an ad for an honest search. That’s not right, it’s misleading. It’s not what you expect from search, and it’s not how we at Bing think search engines should help consumers get the best prices and selection when shopping.”

The Redmond, Wash.-based search engine basically said shoppers who use Google for their shopping searches are “getting ‘Scroogled’ when they should be getting fair, honest, open search.” Bing then compared Google Shopping to Ebenezer Scrooge and noted, “We think consumers should be aware what they’re seeing when they’re shopping online and to understand, without any hidden text or traps, the fine print of what their ‘search engine’ actually searches.”

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Google CEO Larry Page met with FTC to discuss antitrust investigation

Earlier this month, we learned that if Google does not agree to settle with the FTC over alleged abuses, it would be forced to face a formal complaint from the organization.

Bloomberg reported this afternoon that Google CEO Larry Page met with FTC officials today to discuss the investigation and to persuade them that the folks in Mountain View haven’t broken any antitrust laws. The report also added that settlement talks have been ongoing for roughly a week.

The FTC has looked into Google for alleged abuses regarding its large reach over the Internet for roughly two years. FTC Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz is requesting Google make an offer and “won’t accept a resolution short of a consent decree.”

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Nexus 4 sales live again, only 16GB delivers for Christmas (Updated)

The LG Nexus 4 just returned to the Google Play store after both capacities sold out roughly two weeks ago, but now it looks as though the 16GB version will only be available for Christmas.

The 8GB smartphone now has a “4-5 week” shipping notice, where as the 16GB has “1-2 weeks”, so those who want to grab this Android device as a gift for the holiday season had better hurry now. Both the 8GB and 16GB models will likely sell out again or at the very least experience more shipping delays.

Check it out: 

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Gmail integrates with Drive for sharing of files up to 10 GB large

Google just announced that Gmail users could now insert Google Drive files up to 10GB large directly into an email without exiting Gmail.

All files sit in the cloud, so Drive can allow for 400-times-larger attachments, and cloud storage further enables recipients to get access to the latest version of the file from anywhere. To start using the integrated feature, just select the Drive icon when composing a new message. However, it is still rolling out, so folks need to sign up for Gmail’s new compose experience to get access now.

Google’s official Gmail blog also announced Gmail will “double-check that your recipients all have access to any files you’re sending,” which works similar to Gmail’s forgotten attachment detector, as the Gmail Team noted, by prompting users to change the file’s sharing settings before sending any email.

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Google now using Google+ names and photos for Play store user reviews

Google is getting rid of anonymous reviews in its Google Play store and informing users that from now on store reviews “will be posted publicly using your Google+ name and picture.” There doesn’t appear to be an option at this point to not use your Google+ identity, which means we might get a bit of backlash from users. However, it also means more accountability and potentially better reviews. The update was first spotted on the web version of the Google Play store, as pictured above, but it is apparently making its way out to mobile users too.

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