Google hosts Indonesian street art with Chrome Open Spaces, invites archipelago artists to submit work via custom Chrome app (Video)

Google is really into art, as evident by the company’s most recent update to the Google Art Project, and now it is hosting Indonesian art via the Chrome Open Spaces project.

The Google Chrome blog has the story:

From old masters like Basuki to contemporary street artists like Darbotz, Indonesia has a long and rich history of art. The rapidly growing population and economy has led to densified urban spaces,crazy traffic and the rise of Indonesian street art. The Chrome Open Spaces project used the web to bring all these elements together.

Google said the project showcases creativity blended with modern web technologies, such as HTML5, and it even allows archipelago artists to submit drawings through a custom-designed Chrome app that enables the creation of online ‘street art’ with digital values.

“Over 12,000 drawings were submitted and 11,000 votes were cast,” Google explained. “From these virtual paintings, nine winners were chosen to have their creations showcased on buildings and walls across Jakarta and Bandung.”

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HTC delays One phone until late April, now will hit at the same time as the Galaxy S4

Very bad news for HTC on the typical bad news Friday PR release timing:

“HTC has seen unprecedented demand for and interest in the new HTC One, and the care taken to design and build it is evidenced in early reviews. The new HTC One will roll out in the UK, Germany and Taiwan next week and across Europe, North America and most of Asia-Pacific before the end of April. We appreciate our customers’ patience, and believe that once they have the phone in their hands they will agree that it has been worth the wait.”

This might be a knockout blow for HTC. They aren’t going to be at volume until when the S4 hits stores, meaning they are giving up their first mover advantage.

Any advantage HTC has over the Galaxy S4 in hardware will likely be ceded by the lower-brand recognition, HTC Sense overlay or the perceived Ultra (low) Pixel camera.

Report claims Google’s Android team developing smart watch too

Im Watch (Android wristwatch 001)Update: The Korea Times reports that LG too is developing a smart watch and even testing products similar to Google Glass:

A source familiar with the matter told The Korea Times Friday that the Yeouido-based firm’s development of the next-generation watch, along with an innovative smart product similar to Internet giant Google’s Glass, was part of its long-term strategy to keep its competitiveness in the volatile information technology (IT) industry

While Apple and even Samsung have been at the heart of the rumors that new smart watch devices could be the products to keep an eye out for in 2013, Google too might try its hand at bringing a wearable computer in wristwatch form. According to a new report from The Financial Times, citing “a person briefed on the project,” Google’s Android unit is working on a smart watch platform of its own:

Google’s latest venture into wearable technology was more an attention-seeking gimmick than a serious new venture. But with the search giant ploughing significant resources into Google Glass, which embeds a screen, camera, microphone and other sensors into a pair of futuristic spectacles, it’s another indication that Google is serious about moving from the digital to the physical.

While Glass is being created in its X Lab, home to experimental “moonshot” projects such as the self-driving car, Google’s smart watch is being developed by its Android unit, according to a person briefed on the project

The fact that the device is reportedly being developed by Google’s Android unit, and not its experimental X Labs like Google Glass, could be an indication that Google plans to bring its watch product to the masses sooner rather than later. FT’s source also confirmed that the project is separate from the recently announced smart watch project from Samsung that is rumored to run a new operating system called AltiusOS and not Android.

Bloomberg reported in February that Apple had around 100 product designers working on its smart watch, and many analysts expected the product to be released by Apple as early as this year. Today’s report from FT doesn’t provide many details on what exactly Google has planned, but it’s a sign that Google isn’t betting on Glass as the be-all and end-all of wearable platforms. The report did note that Google is developing its smart watch “to act as an extension to the smartphones using” Android.

Google Babble screenshots leaked or more likely a mockup?

Update, March 26: After receiving the screenshots below that allegedly show Google’s rumored Babble messaging service, another anonymous tipster has emailed today sharing different screenshots. The tipster disputes the authenticity of the initial screenshots we posted below, adding that the rumored Google messaging service will not be dubbed “Babble”. The new screenshots (above) do seem to fit in with Google’s recent redesign of its mobile apps more so than the first set of images.

An anonymous tipster sent in these screenshots that appear to be the rumored Google Babble or a nice mockup:

Google-babble-leaked-screenshot

We have no way to know if these are real, but the font looks a bit block-y and not Roboto enough and the quote “JC has started a Voting” is suspicious.

The service is rumored to combine all of Google’s messaging platforms into one and compete better with Apple’s iMessage and BlackBerry Messenger. Chatting on Google services now includes Google Voice, Google Talk, Google Hangouts, and others.

The rumors also point to a May release at Google I/O.

Me personally? I’d have given this a less than 5-10% chance of being legit. Read more

Sergey Brin’s Ted Talk on Google Glass (Video)

Google’s Sergey Brin gave a Ted Talk late last month and it was summarized thusly:

“This act of looking down at my phone is one of the reasons behind Glass. We questioned whether you should be walking around looking down. That was the vision behind Glass and that’s why we created this form factor. (…) When we made this we thought, ‘Can we make something that frees your hands and frees your eyes.’ That’s why we put the display up high and out of your line of sight so you can make eye contact with people. The sound conducts through the bones in your cranium to free up your ears. If you want to hear it better you cover up your ears, which is surprising.  Our original vision at Google was eventually to get rid of the search query and you’d just get the information you need when you need it. Fifteen years later this is first form factor that delivers on that vision. The project has lasted just over 2 years. We’ve learned  lot.”

Via BI/Hacker News Read more

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt admits he still hasn’t kicked the Crack/Blackberry habit

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Even though he is the Chairman of Google (the company behind Android in case you are from Neptune), Eric Schmidt told The Guardian that he still uses a BlackBerry phone. Schmidt pointed to the physical keyboard of many BlackBerry phones as the reason for his continued usage of the platform. In comparison, most Android smartphones include touch-screen keyboards. The Android phones with keyboards are also stuck on dated generations of the Android operating system.

Below is a slideshow of Schmidt and his BlackBerry throughout the last few years:

Google Art Project adds 2,000 works from 30 new partners, including São Paulo street art and rare pieces from China and Japan

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Google added 30 new partners and 2,000 diverse works to the Google Art Project on Thursday.

The collection includes “contemporary art from Latin America, ancient art from China, rare Japanese paintings and Paleolithic flint heads from Spain,” according to the official Google blog, and it highlights a multitude of photographs and pieces such as the growing trend of urban art and graffiti in Brazil.

“More than 100 works from walls, doors and galleries in São Paulo have been photographed and will be included in the Art Project,” said Google. “The pieces were chosen by a group of journalists, artists and graffiti experts and include artists such as Speto, Kobra and Space Invader, as well as images of São Paulo’s most famous building-size murals.”

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As for photography, the Art Project introduced 300 images from renowned photographers at the Fundacion MAPFRE in Spain, so folks can now view work by, for example, Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide. Google’s initiative also became home to Hungarian paintings contributed by the Petőfi Literary Museum. The Nemzeti Dal or “National Song,” for instance, has rarely been seen in public but is now online for the first time.

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Google Glass patent details controlling refrigerator, television, dishwasher, thermostat, garage door, A/V & security systems…kitchen sink?

Google has recently applied for yet another patent application related to potential Google Glass applications. This time it details an augmented reality system that would allow you to recognize, connect to, and control other connected devices. We got our first look at some of the apps Google has in the works for Glass earlier this month when the company demoed Gmail, Evernote, The New York Times, and other apps up and running on Glass during a presentation at SXSW, but the new patent application discovered by Engadget goes well beyond simply reading New York Times headlines in the corner of your eye.

When the wearable computing device determines that a target device is within its environment, the wearable computing device obtains target device information related to the target device. The target device information may include information that defines a virtual control interface for controlling the target device and an identification of a defined area of the target device on which the virtual control image is to be provided. The wearable computing device controls the HMD to display the virtual control image as an image superimposed over the defined area of the target device in the field of view.

Google described a method of allowing Glass to recognize other devices, including: internet-connected appliances, through visual recognition, Bluetooth, QR codes, infra-red and/or a number of other technologies to display superimposed controls for the device to user wearing Google Glass. Two specific examples given in the patent application include a garage door and a refrigerator, as pictured in the sketches above. Imagine walking into a room while wearing Glass and seeing virtual controls for connected devices in the room hovering over the real-world items.

Google does not go into much detail about how exactly users would control the devices, but it mentions the obvious voice commands and gestures as a possibilities. In one embodiment, Google could display “a virtual control interface that is to be displayed on the surface of the target device in a defined area.” Google would then let you control those devices via “virtual buttons, switches, scroll bars, keys, or any other known elements for receiving input from a user.”

The patent application was published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, titled “Wearable Computer with Superimposed Controls and Instructions for External Device.”

We got a look at a new Glass app developed by Duke University earlier this month, called “InSight”, that will allow Glass users to easily detect friends and co-workers by learning and identifying the patterns and colors of clothing they wear.

No immediate plans to merge Chrome and Android, says Google Chairman Eric Schmidt

Speaking at Google’s Big Tent summit in India, Reuters reported executive chairman Eric Schmidt as saying that Chrome and Android will remain separate platforms. This news is in contrast to the widespread view that the two would merge.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt attends a function on catalysing tech Start-ups in India by NASSCOM, in New Delhi March 20, 2013. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Speculation had been driven by the announcement last week that Android founder Andy Rubin was moving to a new role within the company (as yet unspecified), while Chrome head Sundar Pichai would take on responsibility for Android. Speaking to the Guardian‘s Alan Rusbridger, Schmidt said:

Chrome and Android operating systems will remain separate products, although there could be more commonality between them.

Google may perhaps follow Apple’s approach of keeping OS X and iOS platforms separate but sharing certain user-interface elements, such as OS X’s Launchpad adopting a very iOS-like icon grid.

Android adopted the Chrome browser universally last year, while the ChromeOS got touch in its most recent incarnation on the Chromebook Pixel. Read more

Google Play 4.0 update leaks, features cleaner, improved UI

DroidLife staff member has received an update to the Play Store on a Nexus 4. The current Play Store is at version 3.10.14, but the new update is bumping that up to 4.0. While it’s obvious from the video posted by DroidLife that the update isn’t finalized, meaning that not everything about the new store is available to the public, the most notable change is a cleaner, smoother UI. In fact, when you first open the new Play Store, you’ll see a white blank screen, indicating that the ‘Featured’ section of the store hasn’t been pushed out to the public yet.

At first glance, you’ll notice text on list view and icons are bigger in the store than they were previously. When you select an app, the general layout remains the same—with the exception of more italicized font and repositioned buttons. DroidLife also reported a more ‘Halo’-themed tone to the store.

No word on whom else has received the update or when the widespread rollout will begin, but expect to see the update on your phone soon.

YouTube reaches 1B monthly users

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According to Alexa, YouTube is the third-most popular website in the world. According to YouTube, it just reached 1 billion unique monthly users for the first time in history. Some of the accomplishments YouTube is boasting on its blog include the fact that 1 in 2 people on the Internet view YouTube and viewership is roughly Super Bowl audiences. The full happy-go-lucky list of truly how big 1 billion really is is posted on the blog and available below.

What does a billion people tuning into YouTube look like?

  • Nearly one out of every two people on the Internet visits YouTube.
  • Our monthly viewership is the equivalent of roughly ten Super Bowl audiences.
  • If YouTube were a country, we’d be the third largest in the world after China and India.
  • PSY and Madonna would have to repeat their Madison Square Garden performance in front of a packed house 200,000 more times. That’s a lot of Gangnam Style!

Note: YouTube is trailing Facebook in the Billion-User Club by just a few months.