Google prepares for living-room push as 4k support added to Android 4.3

4k

Google is clearly serious about its intentions to make a sizeable push into the living-room market, as Android Police spotted a small clue revealing that Android 4.3 has added support for 4k displays.

Google has added a new DPI category to Android: XXXHDPI. This is for screens with an approximate DPI of six hundred and forty. Did you think we were stopping at 1080p?

Android engineer Dianne Hackborn is quoted as confirming the intent behind this:

A typical use of this density would be 4K television screens — 3840×2160 …  Read more

Samsung officially reports $8.5 billion in revenue for Q2, warns investors that smartphone growth may slow

SAMSUNG CSC

After releasing its earnings estimates earlier this month, Samsung has just posted its full report for Q2 2013. The company reported profits of around $8.5 billion, up $2 billion over Q1′s $6.4 billion profit and about $51 billion in revenue. While both of those numbers are records for Samsung, they fell short of Wall Street expectations.

The mobile department of Samsung increased its profits nine percent in Q2, which the company attributes to sales of the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 8.0. Samsung did note, however, that its mobile department may not be able to keep up that pace forever and a slight drop in growth may occur.

Going forward, Samsung plans to focus on “offering differentiated smartphone displays…including flexible display technology.”  Read more

Google reportedly working on new Android-powered set-top box with motion sensor and video camera

Google-TV

Hot on the heels of the Chromecast being announced yesterday, the Wall Street Journal is now reporting that Google is planning yet another entry into the living room market. The publication says that Google has been secretly working on an Android-powered set-top box, similar to the Roku and Apple TV. Googler Andy Rubin allegedly showed the device off at CES 2013 earlier this year, highlighting the Android operating system and video-chatting via Hangouts feature. In addition to the camera, the device also had a motion sensor similar to Microsoft’s Kinect.

We reported earlier this year that Google was in talks with cable companies for a new service for internet TV streaming, so it’s possible that the two rumors are related.

While similar to the Chromecast, this set-top box is supposedly much more independent and does not require another device to power it. The device will be able to run a plethora of Android apps, including Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, and the Play Store.

The people briefed on Google’s plans said the set-top box Google showed off in January had a broader set of features. One of these people said the device allowed people to stream YouTube videos, watch TV shows or movies from the Google Play digital-programming store, and access Android apps such as videogames or, potentially, digital media services such as Netflix and Pandora.

Read more

Android 4.3 includes major Photo Sphere enhancements, app permission manager & cool easter egg

Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 12.28.50 PM

Yesterday, Google finally announced Android 4.3, a minor update to 4.2 that included a handful of neat features, including the ability to have more than one user profile. As time has progressed, however, a few other unannounced features have been discovered.

First, Googler Evan Rapoport posted a detailed description on Google+ about the serious enhancements the Photo Sphere team made to the functionality in Android 4.3. Rapoport says that nearly all of stitching and exposure bugs and annoyances present in Android 4.2 have been fixed in the latest update.

First, alignment and stitching are much better, giving you more level horizons and fewer errors throughout the image. While environments with lots of moving things are always challenging, scenes like the one attached here with a long flat horizon are now much better.

Second, we’ve improved exposure compensation for each individual frame, producing a beautifully exposed photo sphere. You can compare this to the previous versions that produced gray areas and inconsistent coloring in areas of high contrast (near the sun, horizons, buildings against blue sky, etc.).

Read more

Google ends free Netflix/Chromecast promotion due to ‘overwhelming demand’

Chromecast

According to a report from the LA Times, Google has confirmed today that it is ending the three months of free Netflix service that it launched as a promotion with its new $35 Chromecast streaming device yesterday. Reports of the device selling out at various retailers and shipping times being pushed back on Google Play started circling this morning, and Google says the promotion has ended due to the overwhelming demand:

“Due to overwhelming demand for Chromecast devices since launch, the 3-month Netflix promotion (which was available in limited quantities) is no longer available,” Google told The Times in a statement.

Reviews for the Chromecast have been fairly positive, with most agreeing the price point will be its biggest differentiator. However, the free Netflix promotion, almost a $30 value, was certainly helping to drive a lot of the early demand for the $35 device. A selection of reviews, good and bad, are below:

Read more

Amazon Cloud Drive Photos app now does video uploads & streaming on Android

Amazon-Cloud-Photos-Amazon Cloud Drive Photos app for Android, which previously only handled photo uploads to Amazon’s cloud storage service offering users 5GB for free, was just updated with the ability to upload and stream videos. Version 1.7 of the app will allow users to upload and download videos up to 20 minutes in length and 2GB in size, and will also stream video to any of your Android devices supporting the new video features (the iOS app equivalent is yet to be updated).

A blog post by Amazon outlining the technology behind the new video feature says the app supports more than 20 file formats and 40 video codecs:

The team wanted to allow users to upload and view almost any video. The Elastic Transcoder allows them to support more than 20 file formats and 40 video codecs, including videos captured on archaic devices and stored in obsolete formats. Because Cloud Drive already stored uploaded files in Amazon S3 (they also make heavy use of EC2, SQS, SNS, CloudFront and DynamoDB), it was easy for the team to get started. They created an initial set of transcoding pipelines, decided on the set of output formats that they wanted to support, and created Elastic Transcoding presets as needed… In order to provide a great user experience, the team set a goal of having finished videos available 15 minutes or less after they were uploaded. They were able to over-achieve on this goal and report that videos are often ready within a minute or two.

Perhaps Amazon will soon change the app’s name to better reflect its new video capabilities.

The updated app also includes a few other features, including larger preview images in landscape view. Full release notes below: Read more

Google+ Photos app for Chromebooks coming soon to Mac & PC?

Google-Plus-Photos-App-MacBack in June, Google released a new Google+ Photos app for the Chromebook Pixel and noted that the slick app would also be coming to other Chrome OS devices. However, today we get some proof that the Chrome app might be soon making its way to other platforms including Mac and Windows. The Google Operating System blog notes that the app has recently made its way to the Chrome Web Store, with the app’s description describing auto-upload features for Mac, PC, and Linux:
Read more

Google’s Sundar Pichai says new Samsung-made Nexus 10 coming in the ‘near future’

nexus10

As expected, Google finally took the wraps off its new Nexus 7 tablet yesterday during its breakfast with Chrome and Android chief Sundar Pichai. While there was no mention of a possible update to its 10-inch Nexus, it appears Pichai has since confirmed in an interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Amir Efrati that a new version of the device would be arriving in the “near future”:

While we haven’t been hearing much about a new Nexus 10, which was first introduced back in October, we did recently hear that Samsung was working on an octa-core Nexus 11 alongside a new 11-inch Galaxy Tab for later this year. Pichai apparently confirmed that next-gen Nexus 10 would again be made by Samsung, and “near future” seems to indicate we’ll likely see the device shipping with the latest version of Android 4.3 sometime later this year.

Influential analyst predicts a hit for Moto X, a miss for new Nexus 7

x-n7

KGI’s Mingchi Kuo, an analyst with a good predictive track-record, has forecast that the Moto X will do substantially better than forecast, while the new 1080P Nexus 7 will do significantly worse.

According to our survey, 2013F shipments of Moto X, to be announced August 1, should reach 5.5mn units, up 57% from the previous forecast of 3.5mn units, including 1.5mn units in 3Q13 and 4.0mn units in 4Q13.

Kuo cited a combination of supply chain sources, the positive response from U.S. operators and Google’s planned megaspend of half a billion dollars on marketing the handset as key factors for the boost in expected numbers … Read more

Google reportedly testing a new e-commerce service called Helpouts

According to a new report from TechCrunch, Google is in the midst of testing a new e-commerece service that would allow users to buy and sell services via video. The service is reportedly dubbed “Helpouts” and has been in testing within the company since June, with a public release not happening for at least another month.

The service would obviously be based heavily on Google’s Hangout video chats. The services could be started instantaneously or planned as classes. As an example, TechCrunch suggests that a Spanish tutor from Argentina could offer to train other users in the language for a fee, or that a Yoga instructor could provide classes to stay-at-home moms. Users would be able to create a Helpout profile and build a reputation over time.

Read more

Google Cast extension now available for Chrome

At its breakfast event this morning, Google officially confirmed the Chromecast, which is a device that lets you “cast” content from your computer, smartphone, and tablet to your big screen TV. While most people don’t have their hands on the device yet, Google has just released the official Cast extension for Chrome.

The Google Cast extension enables you to find and play content on your Chromecast device from your Chrome browser. When on Cast optimized sites like YouTube and Netflix, you’ll see new options that let you play video on your TV via Chromecast – using your computer as a remote to browse for videos and to control playback. You can also cast any of your tabs in Chrome to your TV, letting you enjoy sites, photos, or even video from the best screen in your home.

The Chromecast itself is available from a variety of retailers, including Best Buy and Amazon.