Gmail now displays recent photos in the people widget

Gmail updated its people widget to include three photos from recent emails for a showcased person (example to the right).

“The next time you look at the people widget, you might see up to 3 photos from recent emails from that person. Not only does this remind you of photos they’ve sent to you, but it also gives you one click access to the emails with those photos,” announced Gmail on Google+.

The Gmail people widget is located on the right-hand side of messages and displays users’ contextual information about people their interacting with in the email service.

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Sprint FINALLY updates Nexus S 4G to Ice Cream Sandwich

It looks like Google and Sprint finally got around to updating the NExus S 4G to Ice Cream Sandwich.  The update, certainly expected for awhile, is detailled below.

4/5 – Nexus S Software Update – IMM76D (Android 4.0 – Ice Cream Sandwich)

Nexus S Software Update – IMM76D  (Android 4.0 –  Ice Cream Sandwich)

Enhancements/Fixes: Read more

Larry Page posts ‘Update From the CEO 2012′ memo detailing Google’s aspirations

On the Google Investor Relations website, Google’s Chief Executive Officer Larry Page just published his “2012 Update from the CEO” to give an update on the state of the company since taking over as chief and “reorganizing the management team” around the company’s core products.

In the letter, Page talks a lot about one of his biggest efforts during the last year: Google+. While noting, “We have a long way to go,” he said the service now has 100 million active users and the company has implemented more than 120 Google+ integrations with services like search and Android.

Last April, I began by reorganizing the management team around our core products to improve responsibility and accountability across Google. I also kicked off a big clean-up. Google has so many opportunities that, unless we make some hard choices, we end up spreading ourselves too thin and don’t have the impact we want. So we have closed or combined over 30 products, including projects like Knol and Sidewiki. In addition, we gave many of our products, such as Google Search, a visual refresh, and they now have a cleaner, more consistent, and beautiful look.

Addressing concerns over changes made to privacy policies and search in recent months that have “generated a lot of interest,” Page explained the company’s incentive to “do the right thing”:

We have always wanted Google to be a company that is deserving of great love. But we recognize this is an ambitious goal because most large companies are not well-loved, or even seemingly set up with that in mind. We’re lucky to have a very direct relationship with our users, which creates a strong incentive for us to do the right thing… We have always believed that it’s possible to make money without being evil. In fact, healthy revenue is essential if we are to change the world through innovation, and hire (and retain) great people..

The full letter is below…

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Wikipedia dumps Google Maps for OpenStreetMap, marks industry trend toward alternative service

OpenStreetMap on "Wikipedia for Android" app

Wikipedia updated its Android and iOS apps today, but the noteworthy feature is that the online encyclopedia-like website dumped Google Maps for OpenStreetMap, which marks a growing trend for technology firms preferring an alternative mapping solution.

The company just announced its Android counterpart witnessed 2.25 million installs in less than two months since its birth, while netting over 23 million Wikipedia page views per month. Despite the success with Google’s mobile OS, Wikipedia updated its apps with Open StreetMap data in favor of the service’s “nearby view” feature.

Wikipedia further explained the reasoning behind the switch:

Previous versions of our application used Google Maps for the nearby view. This has now been replaced with OpenStreetMaps – an open and free source of Map Data that has been referred to as ‘Wikipedia for Maps.’ This closely aligns with our goal of making knowledge available in a free and open manner to everyone. This also means we no longer have to use proprietary Google APIs in our code, which helps it run on the millions of cheap Android handsets that are purely open source and do not have the proprietary Google applications. OpenStreetMaps is used in both iOS and Android, thanks to the amazing Leaflet.js library. We are currently using Mapquest’s map tiles for our application, but plan on switching to our own tile servers in the near future.

In the last couple of months alone, both Apple and Foursquare also shifted to OpenStreetMap. It is worth mentioning that Yahoo implemented OpenStreetMap data within Flickr in 2009 for a plethora of worldwide cities, such as Baghdad, Beijing, Kabul, Santiago, Sydney, and Tokyo.

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Sprint’s HTC EVO One promo brings back the pin drop

As we noted in our live event coverage, the Sprint EVO One features HD Audio, which should allow users to hear the other side of the conversation much more vividly. Perhaps to illustrate the feature, the HTC promo video brings back the famous 80’s commercial Pin drop.

This is Sprint’s 1980s Pin Drop commercial:

HTC details the design work in the video below:

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Google Books cutting off independent eBooksellers starting 2013

Google announced today in a post on the Inside Google Books blog that it would be discontinuing its reseller program that allowed independent booksellers to sell through Google’s eBook services. The American Booksellers Association sent letters to its members informing them that about 350 independent bookstores selling eBooks through Google’s reseller program would end as of Jan. 31, 2013. The full letter (via Paid Content) is below.

Google’s explanation comes from Director of Product Management for Digital Publishing Scott Dougall:

Looking at the results to-date, it’s clear that the reseller program has not met the needs of many readers or booksellers. While our role as an ebooks wholesaler to booksellers will be coming to a close next year, we remain as committed as ever to making the eBooks experience from Google the best it can be for readers around the world.

For books that customers have already purchased, Google confirmed they would continue to “be able to access and read their eBooks on the web, phones, tablets and compatible eReaders.” Google will also help its 16 reseller partners “as they transition in the coming months” by continuing to give access to free Books APIs and highlighting them in the “Buy this book” section of Google Book search.

The full letter from the ABA to its members is below:

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Google offers premium 1-year GoMo subscription at no charge, hopes to lead mobile advertising

Google expanded its GoMo initiative to offer small businesses an opportunity to mobilize their websites for free.

According to Fortune, the Mountain View, Calif.-based search engine teamed with startup Duda Mobile to offer the $9 per month service at no cost for an entire year starting today. Users will save $108 a year, and then they can purchase the premium service after the complimentary period ends—if desired.

In a blog post, Duda Mobile’s Dennis Mink explained the collaboration:

Our hope is that by offering both the education AND the service at no cost for one year, we can help businesses make the shift to mobile more quickly, benefiting both their business as well as us consumers who no longer want to pinch and zoom our way through their regular websites on our phones.

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LTE Samsung Galaxy S Aviator available on US Cellular, looks suspiciously like Droid Charge

If you really liked the Droid Charge’s look and feel, with its fast LTE speeds and physical buttons, but did not want to jump on Verizon Wireless, U.S. Cellular has a phone with a similar experience. The Samsung Galaxy S Aviator sticks out with the following features:

  • ·         Android 2.3.6 (Gingerbread)
  • ·         4.3-inch Super AMOLED™ Plus touchscreen
  • ·         8 megapixel rear-facing camera
  • ·         Front facing webcam
  • ·         HDMI port

I am surprisingly a big fan of real buttons, because you can feel them for navigation, and sometimes capacitance gets all out of whack.

Otherwise, the Charge is a solid phone on Verizon, and now U.S. Cellular owners will have a nice option too.

The press release follows:

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YouTube adds 3D viewing for all short 1080p videos, says 4D is around the corner (Videos)

YouTube now automatically allows short 1080p videos to convert to 3D.

The video-sharing platform just announced on the official YouTube blog that it is expanding a beta feature released last year, which gives users the option to convert YouTube videos to 3D with just a click of a mouse. Since the beta launched, creators have converted hundreds of thousands of videos to 3D.

The popularity of the feature encouraged YouTube to implement 3D viewing in the Quality settings under the gear icon on the YouTube player.

“Then pop on your 3D glasses and see YouTube in another dimension (like the video above),” explained Technical Staffer Deb Mukherjee and Software Engineer Chen Wu in the blog post.

The Googlers even recommended watching “YouTube Rewind 2011″ to get the full YouTube 3D experience (below).

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One of Google’s top PR guys, Gabriel Stricker, to become Twitter’s top PR guy

The announcement was made— naturally— by Twitter:

Google still lists Stricker as Director of Global Communications & Public Affairs, where he reported to Senior Vice President Communications Rachel Whetstone:

Gabriel Stricker is Director of Global Communications & Public Affairs at Google Inc. where he heads Search communications – addressing everything from web search and other search properties (such as Maps, Earth, News and Books) to issues pertaining to partnerships, content, and the use of intellectual property. Gabriel received his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley and his master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University. He is the author of the bestselling book on guerrilla marketing entitled, Mao In the Boardroom, published by St. Martin’s Press.

At Twitter, he is now called Vice President of Communications.

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Sprint’s HTC EVO One event: Notes and Pictures

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Notes from the event:

  • - Narrator introduction: Sprint was the first carrier with nationwide 4G, first with 3G, and it unveiled the first 3D phone.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse takes the presentation stage floor:

  • - He talks about Sprint’s successful partnership with HTC and Evo.
  • - Showcases network vision, which is an initiative designed to give customers a better network coverage and experience.
  • - He mentions that Evo is an HD voice- capable phone. Mobile voice quality is crystal clear. Enhanced voice quality for Sprint stems back to fiber optic network days of Sprint’s heritage.

HTC President Jason Mackenzie takes the stage to unveil new Evo One:

  • - It has only been two years since both companies originally launched the HTC Evo flagship device.
  • - It was the first 4G smartphone to launch in the United States. This year represents a turning point for HTC, because it is delivering true hero products with beautiful designs, amazing cameras, and an authentic sound.
  • - HTC is not just all about specs; it believes experience is key.
  • - Evo One’s Sense 4 is faster, cleaner, and more intuitive than ever before for delivering a premium experience.
  • - Evo One boasts an amazing camera and awesome sound experience.
  • -Design is something HTC has always been serious about, and it is doubling down this year so phones look and feel great.

HTC Lead Designer Jonah Becker takes the stage to discuss the Evo One’s design:

  • - The Evo name stands for the very best. It features authentic material with meticulous attention to detail.
  • - The Evo One is crafted from aluminum, first given a black finish, and then the edge’s surface is cleaned of edge to bring a highlight to the device’s look.
  • - Design process discussed next (video demo): Red kickstand gives the Evo One an HTC look, but it also serves a purpose.
  • - The Evo One has a soft touch finish and blasted aluminum for texture, and then it undergoes a chemical etching process to create something new to industry without painting or coating.
  • - About 100 different machine cutters are used to create all the features and geometry needed in the HTC Evo One—and people notice. A much-better designed product. “It’s what I want in my pocket.”
  • - New Evo is also a high-end camera like an SLR, and the red ring around lens mimics high-end cameras, while the red band on the back reinforces the HTC brand.
  • - The aluminum gives the Evo One a precise feel, and an actual camera button gives it a real feel.
  • - It is also a multimedia powerhouse; hardware is just a passage to content.
  • - Crisp, rectangular phone mimics TV, and its kickstand lets you go hands free.

Sprint Product Chief Fared Adib takes stage to talk about camera features:

  • - The camera: True digital SLR in phone.
  • - The Evo One sports HTC image sense technology and dedicated imaging chip, with super fast camera startup and auto focus to allow four frames per second in a continuous shooting mode.
  • - Image sense f/2.4 lens with HDR and smart flash makes sure every picture is perfect, i.e., not too dark or too light.
  • - The Evo One takes videos and photos simultaneously without switching between modes. While shooting video, just click shutter button to snap a picture.

Sprint CEO and HTC President are back on stage to conclude presentation:

  • - The HTC Evo One has a focus on sound: Rich, authentic sound with Beats Audio by Dr. Dre.
  • - Evo One has a media manager to get sound from computer to phone, but the music hub also gives access to a user’s music in apps and all other places. Streaming options to car and TV are also available.
  • - HTC voice: In 2012, Sprint will serve 500 million voice minutes. Sprint’s beloved HD voice is the future of phone calls. It is possible through a combination of dual microphones, decoders, encoders, and networks for a richer sound.
  • - Demo video depicts reduced background sound very well. “Hearing is believing.”
  • - Key features: 2,000 mAh batter, 4.7-inch HD screen, and Snapdragon dual core processor, Beats Audio by Dr. Dre, Ice Cream Sandwich OS with Sense 4.0, and a 8-megapixel shooter and 1.3-megapixel camera.

The HTC Evo One will be available in the second quarter for $199.99. Pre-sale starts May 7.

Demonstration area opens:

  • - I played with the phone. It looks cool—feels sturdy and valuable, yet the screen is huge. I had trouble handling it, because I am use to the smaller iPhone. Snapping photos while recording video was excellent. The fast startup and auto focus was also impressive. Camera features are cool too: built-in vignette, panorama, HDR, face detection for group shots, and more. The HD voice demo was amazing, as well. It highlighted absolutely no background sound despite the noisy area. I think the HTC Evo One is a quality phone. There is nothing that stands out when it comes to the user interface, though, as it looks like a typical Android smartphone.

The full-sized pictures are below:

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Google updates Gmail, Street View, and Google Books for Android

Google just rolled out updates to a few of its Android apps, the biggest of which brings a ton of new features to “Gmail for Android” 3.2 (Honeycomb) users. Previously, only Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich users had access to features like swiping between conversations, custom notifications for labels, and the ability to sync messages for the last 30 days. All of those features and the rest of the Ice Cream Sandwich Gmail experience are now being implemented for Honeycomb users. The updated app is available on Google Play now, and a full list of the features is below:

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