Google honors Maria Montessori, whose teaching methods were used to educate both Google founders

Today’s Google Doodle is a special one that honors the 142nd birthday of Maria Montessori:

Montessori education is characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological development, as well as technological advancements in society.

In a Wired article, called “An Unconventional CEO“, Steven Levy interviews former Google Vice President Marissa Mayer, who commented on Montessori.

“You can’t understand Google unless you know that both Larry and Sergey were Montessori kid,” Levy explained. “She’s referring to schools based on the education philosophy of Maria Montessori, an Italian physician born in 1870 who believed that children should be allowed the freedom to pursue their interests.”

“In a Montessori school, you go paint because you have something to express or you just want to do it that afternoon, not because the teacher said so,” articulated Mayer. “This is baked into how Larry and Sergey approach problems. They’re always asking, why should it be like that? It’s the way their brains were programmed early on.”

ICS-powered Kyocera Rise lands on Virgin Mobile for $99 without contract

Virgin Mobile USA now offers the Ice Cream Sandwich-powered Kyocera Rise for $99 without a contract.

The handset notably boasts Google Play access, and it features a touch slider with a QWERTY keyboard, 3.5-inch HVGA LCD touchscreen, 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon Processor, 500 mAh Li-Ion Battery, 3.2-megapixel camera with LED flash and video capture, 2GB SD card and microSD card slot with up to 32GB support, and Wi-Fi and Stereo Bluetooth connectivity.

Check it out: Kyocera Rise

The Rise is compatible with Virgin’s prepaid unlimited data and messaging Beyond Talk plans starting at $35 per month, and it is available at select retailers, online, and in Virgin Mobile stores. It will also roll out across national retail outlets starting in late September.

Not a bad price for a prepaid Android device equipped with ICS, eh?

A gallery is below.

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Google Play now recommends apps its thinks you should download through new ‘Recommended for You’ section

If you are one of those heavy-downloading types, you will be happy to learn this evening that Google Play was updated with a new “Recommended for You” section. It is straightforward and works close to how Genius does on iOS, providing recommendations on apps that Google Play thinks you should download. The section can be accessed via Google Play’s different categories; offering up suggestions from what is popular with similar users, +1′d by your Google+ friends, and apps that are popular in your area. Find something on the list you don’t like? You can easily get rid of it from the recommendation list with the hide button. Find something you do like? Well…you know the rest. [Android Central, Image via Droid Life]

More alleged photos of Amazon’s new Kindle Fire emerge, add a bit of validity to earlier leak

This afternoon, The Verge posted a purported image of Amazon’s upcoming Kindle Fire that is set to be announced next week. The Verge posted two more images of the upcoming Fire to follow up this evening. They rock the same notch at the top, which appears to be a microphone, along with a camera for video chatting. Furthermore, you will notice the Skype instance being run on screen, which we assume is just downloaded form the Amazon Appstore. Other than the camera and mic, all looks to be similar to the original Kindle Fire that was released last fall.

It is not clear at this point if Amazon will release a 7- and a 10-incher, as several reports have mentioned. It looks like we will just have to wait and see at Amazon’s media event Sept. 5, which we will be covering in full. And hey, while on the subject, Amazon revealed earlier today that it “sold out” of the popular Kindle Fire. It is looking like a good time for the Kindle brand, huh? You can see the charger image below: [The Verge]

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Amazon using Nokia Maps instead of Google Maps in the upcoming Kindle Fire 2?

At its Worldwide Developer Conference in June, Apple announced it was moving to its own mapping solution in lieu of Google Maps —a platform the company has used since 2007. According to a report by Reuters this evening, Amazon looks to make a similar move for its upcoming second-generation Kindle Fire. Moving away from Google Maps, Amazon will reportedly team with Nokia to offer maps on the tablet.

Amazon is expected to introduce the second-generation Kindle Fire at its event next week. It is rumored to feature a GPS chip that will make mapping capabilities possible, thus making sense for a partnership. We assume Amazon ditched the idea of Google because of Mountain View’s direct competition in the market. Google offers a $199 Nexus 7 tablet, priced competitively with the Kindle Fire, but since the Kindle Fire is a custom version of Android, it seems a little odd that Google would be left in the dust. However, business is business. Microsoft announced earlier this summer that it was ditching its own mapping platform for Nokia maps in Windows 8. Amazon wants some of that Nokia Kool-Aid. We will be covering next week’s event to let you know what is official.

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Reuters: Larry Page and Apple’s Tim Cook are communicating on patents

Google CEO Larry Page and Apple CEO Tim Cook are reportedly in talks regarding mobile patent disputes between the companies.

According to Reuters, which cited “people familiar with the matter,” both chiefs spoke on the phone last week while more discussions between “lower-level officials” are also underway:

Page and Cook are expected to talk again in the coming weeks, though no firm date has been set, the sources said. One source told Reuters that a meeting was scheduled for this Friday, but had been delayed for reasons that were unclear.

The two companies are keeping the lines of communication open at a high level against the backdrop of Apple’s decisive legal victory in a patent infringement case against Samsung, which uses Google’s Android software.

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Too bad to be fake: Amazon’s new Kindle Fire spotted? [Photo]

The Verge just posted a purported image of the new Kindle Fire:

We’re being told that a “pair” of Fires is likely — a 7- and a 10-incher — though it remains unclear whether both models will be introduced at the same time.

Amazon revealed earlier today that it “sold out” of the popular Kindle Fire eReader, which runs on a forked version of the Android OS, with additional news about the device supposedly capturing 22 percent of U.S. tablet sales. Amazon also recently announced a press conference for Sept. 6 in Los Angeles. The company typically holds media events for hardware launches, so many expected new Kindles, including an iPad-sized version or maybe even an Amazon phone, to come down the pipeline.

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Amazon’s Appstore for Android launches in Europe as Kindle Fire sells out claiming 22 percent of US tablet sales

Amazon has a bit of exciting Android-related news today: The mega online retailer announced the launch of its Appstore for Android in Europe and revealed its Android-powered Kindle Fire is currently sold out after gobbling up nearly one-fourth of United States tablet sales.

The Appstore opened in Germany, France, Italy and Spain for access to Android apps. Amazon also opened key features to European customers, such as: localized content and store for each country, popular Amazon benefits like “Free App of the Day, personalized recommendations, and one-click payments.

“Amazon has spent years developing innovative features that help customers find and discover the products that are right for them and have applied that know-how to the Amazon Appstore. We’re delighted to extend that experience to our European customers,” said Vice President of Amazon Appstore Jim Adkins in a press release.

As for the Android-powered Kindle Fire—it is the “most successful product launch in the history of” after capturing 22 percent of tablet sales in the U.S. With that said, Amazon recently announced a press conference for Sept. 6 in Los Angeles. The company typically holds media events for hardware launches, so we expect new Kindles, such as an iPad-sized version, or maybe even an Amazon phone, to come down the pipeline.

“We’re grateful to the millions of customers who have made Kindle Fire the most successful product launch in the history of Amazon,” said Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in a press release. “Kindle Fire is sold out, but we have an exciting roadmap ahead—we will continue to offer our customers the best hardware, the best prices, the best customer service, the best cross-platform interoperability, and the best content ecosystem.”

The Kindle Fire debuted less than one year ago with a huge catalog of multimedia content including 22 million movies, games, books and more.

Check out the full press releases below.

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Google Search update brings movie listings, public alerts and more to Google Now

In an update this evening for the Google Search for Android app, the folks in Mountain View included some goodies for the Jelly Bean-exclusive Google Now. Users can now see movie showtimes, receive important emergency alerts (storm warnings, etc.), and set their favorite sports teams from a list of 140 to get the latest scores thanks to the latest update. Furthermore, if you are a Korean user, you will be happy to learn that the oh-so creepy voice-search platform has received an update for your language. Go check out the new cards and report back! (Note: Some of them will need to be manually turned on through the settings menu.) [Google Play via +Android]

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Your Samsung Mobile Unpacked complete coverage: Galaxy Note II, Galaxy Camera and more!

Samsung took the stage at its Unpacked event this evening to kick off the annual IFA taking place this week in Berlin. During the event, Samsung unveiled its all-new Galaxy Note successor: the Galaxy Note II. Furthermore, the South Korean-based company brought a new product into its line-up:  the Galaxy Camera. We broke the news of the new devices a few minutes before the event started; however, it was definitely interesting to hear Samsung talk strategy and products on stage.

We compiled a gallery below with complete coverage of what happened during the event. Give it a look and tell us if you are satisfied with Samsung’s latest offerings as we gear into the fall. Check out our time with both devices earlier this afternoon and then zoom quickly below the break for the event in photos:

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Google looks to sell Motorola’s set-top box business for as much as $2B

It was rumored earlier this year that Google looked to sell Motorola’s set-top box and television equipment business. Google is continuing its plans to sell, as Bloomberg reported this afternoon. The Mountain View-based company has hired firm Barclays to look for buyers. Google is said to be looking for up to $2 billion in the deal, but the sale is in its very early stages so the exact terms are not clear.

Since Google and Motorola’s $12.5 billion deal went official this summer, Motorola has gone through several changes company-wide. The most notable change was when up to 4,000 employees were laid off…on top of 30 of Motorola’s 90 facilities worldwide being shut down. Furthermore, there have been several executive changes as the company looks to get back into creating some serious mobile devices. Selling off their television business may help them reach that goal with extra cash in hand. [BloombergRead more

Samsung’s Galaxy Camera unveiled: Everything you love about Android in a point-and-shoot camera (hands-on!)

With Nikon and Polaroid getting ready to launch their Android-powered cameras as early as September, Samsung officially unveiled its entrance into the market today in Berlin with its first dedicated point-and-shoot running Android. While recent rumors pointed to the possibility of a device with specs close to those announced for Nikon’s Coolpix S800c, Samsung unveiled a 4.8-inch device with specs closer to its own Galaxy S III.

We were able to get some hands-on time with the device and were quite impressed…to say the least. Put simply, the Galaxy Camera is everything you love about an Android device in a quality point-and-shoot camera (minus voice calling). It includes full Google Play access, Wi-Fi/3G/4G (HSPA+), and voice control on a full-sized display like the Galaxy S III.

More specs below and hands-on BELOW:

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