Ubuntu smartphone OS hardware requirements detailed for entry level and high-end ‘superphone’ devices (Gallery)

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Canonical has announced a new version of Ubuntu that is aimed at the smartphone and built around existing Android kernels and drivers, reported The Verge. The mobile OS will support both ARM and x86 and is said to be very easy for OEMs to adapt on their Android devices. The main difference between Ubuntu and other versions of Android is that Java Virtual Machine is not being utilized. According to the folks at Canonical, this is said to let “all core applications run at full native speeds with a small memory footprint.”

Ubuntu phones are expected to be shipping in early 2014, according to Canonical, while the device is being demoed today at a media event in London (as seen above). Additionally, downloadable versions of Ubuntu are expected in the coming weeks for the Galaxy Nexus to let developers begin tinkering. An app marketplace is in the works, as more devices will be added in the coming months.

Canonical has detailed the system requirements for smartphones running Ubuntu. The “entry level” Ubuntu device is expected to run a 1GHz Cortex A9 processor, 512MB – 1GB of RAM, 4-8GB eMMC + SD, and a multi-touch display. The high-end Ubuntu “superphone” calls for a Quad-core A9 or Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM minimum, multitouch, and desktop convergence. The desktop convergence part certainly sounds interesting, as Canonical called it a “a full PC desktop accessible just by docking the device to a monitor and keyboard.”

An initial hands-on report from Engadget said the OS relies on heavy edge swipes instead of buttons, much like Windows 8. Canonical will showcase the devices even more at CES 2013 next week, and we’ll definitely take them for a spin. In the mean time, you’ll find a gallery of Ubuntu running below.

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Google and Kia Motors announce deal to bring Google Maps & Places to new vehicles

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Kia Motors is working with Google to bring Google Maps and Google Places integration to new vehicles via an updated version of its UVO eServices telematics system. Kia said in a press release today that it would work with Google to integrate Maps and Services for “driving directions and locate Points of Interest (POIs) in a seamless and organic manner.” The new integration will land in the 2014 Sorento CUV and go on sale in the first half of this year, but it will presumably hit all-new vehicles that utilize Kia’s built-in UVO eServices. Kia will also provide Maps and Places features from its UVO smartphone app:

Available with the 2014 Sorento CUV, the new Google-powered UVO system will serve Kia owners whether they are in their cars or away from them. Enabled by the Send2Car feature, Kia owners can send a POI or destination to their car directly from the Google Maps via their SmartphoneUVO app. From within the car, Kia owners will benefit from Google Places, which will provide POI and destination resources such as a dealership location, and Google Maps, which will provide directions to virtually anywhere and everywhere a car can travel. Read more

New Google data centers to bring 30 percent speed increase to areas worldwide

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According to a report from the Economic Times, new data centers in Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong are set to bring more speed to Google’s services for many areas. Construction on these data center sites began in 2011 at the sum of $300 million, and, according to today’s report, they are pegged to bring a 30 percent speed increase to Google services for neighboring regions. The Singapore facility is expected to go up in the next few months, while the Taiwan is pegged for the second half. No timetable has been given on the Hong Kong facility.

As an Internet-relying company, one big focus area for Google is speed. The new data centers are going to hopefully bring more speed to areas that normally aren’t as fast. Lalitesh Katragadda, head of product at Google India, explained: “Internet connectivity speed in India is not very high. These data centres will be crucial to this market due to its proximity.” Outside of Asia, Google has seven other data centers across the world. Several are in the U.S., with one each in Finland, Belgium, and Ireland as well. [Economic Times via TNW]

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MK802 Mini Android PC for $35.21 offers an affordable Android computer

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From 9to5toys:

Perfect to hook-up to a television, Amazon is offering the MK802 Mini Android PC for $35.21 — lower than the regular list price of $59. For those unfamiliar, this little gadget offers a full Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich experience in the size of a USB flash drive. A mini HDMI port is on the device for connecting it to an external display, making it a compelling device for the living room.

Additionally, the Mini Android PC features a full-sized USB port to connect to another computer or add peripherals. It ships with an HDMI, USB, and power cable and supports 802.1b/g/n Wi-Fi. Of course you’ll need a keyboard and mouse, so something like the Logitech diNovo Mini Keyboard plus a Bluetooth Micro Adapter may be the perfect solution. [Amazon] Read more

Head of Google Glass Babak Parviz talks what is next for the platform

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As 2013 kicks off, Babak Parviz, head of the Google Glass project that launched in spring of last year, sat down in an interview with IEEE Spectrum to give word on what to expect next.

We saw several prototype versions of Google Glass, as it readies shipping to the mainstream, and today, Parviz gave some insight into what has changed. “We constantly try out new ideas of how this platform can be used. There’s a lot of experimentation going on at all times in Google,” said Parviz. “We’re also trying to make the platform more robust. This includes making the hardware more robust and the software more robust, so we can ship it to developers early this year.” The early 2013 shipping time was announced at Google I/O 2012. It is nice to see Google is still on-track; however, new features for the platform have not been revealed. “The feature set for the device is not set yet. It is still in flux,” Parviz said.

Parviz also covered how Google will make a business out of Google Glass, and, maybe as a surprise to many, the Mountain View company currently doesn’t have plans to include advertising—its bread and butter. The business model is still being worked on: “This is still being worked on, but we are quite interested in providing the hardware…At the moment, there are no plans for advertising on this device.”

Other revelations in the interview include a cloud-based API so developers can integrate their Android apps into Google Glass. An example given was email and calendar services. Lastly, Parviz said the Glass team has worked hard on battery life and making sure the device is safe on the eyes. You can read the full interview for more. [IEEE Spectrum] Read more

Student (or play one)? Here, have $50 off a Kindle HD 8.9-inch, now starting at $249

From 9to5Toys.com:

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If you are a student (or have access to a .edu email address), Amazon is having a special New Years Day deal on the Kindle HD 8.9. The online retailing giant is offering $50 off the price of an 8.9-inch Kindle Fire that yields a $249 price.

Exclusive Discount on Kindle Fire 8.9″
Special pricing available only to Amazon Student Members with an active Prime account (free six-month or $39/year plan). Join Amazon Student or start your [$39/year] discounted Prime membership to take advantage of this sale. The promo codes below will become available 24 hours after activation of your account, through January 30. New members, don’t forget to check your .edu email and verify your account.

How to Redeem This Deal
Place a Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ or a Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless in your cart. At checkout, enter the promo code KNDL4STU. If you are an Amazon Student member in a free or paid Prime plan, the discount will be applied to the items in your cart. This promo code may be redeemed once per customer. offer good only while supplies last. Read more

Ring in the New Year with the official New Year’s Eve Ball countdown app (and keep those resolutions too!)

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The countdown is on.

It’s New Year’s Eve and folks are either getting ready to go out and party or assembling a junk food fest to sit on the couch and gorge the night away, but it’s guaranteed that almost everyone will have their eyes locked on Time Square’s Ball when the clock strikes midnight. Instead of watching this year’s countdown on television, however, just use an Android smartphone.

The Times Square Official New Year’s Eve Ball App is the official app to celebrate New Year’s Eve live from New York City, as the app’s description indicates, and it’s free. The main features include the ability to watch the co-hosted official show live, opening ceremonies, musical performances, celebrity appearances, hourly countdowns, and the midnight Ball Drop.

Check it out:

Users can also submit images and then vote on friends’ photos to possibly be selected for display on the Toshiba Vision Screen beneath the New Year’s Eve Ball, and they have access to tidbits related to history, news, weather, photos, map, and event schedule. The app also offers New Year’s Eve eCards and the ability to customize the Toshiba Countdown Clock with a personal photo and time zone.

Get more apps below.

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Google looks back at 2012 with compilation Google Doodle

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It is New Year’s Eve (for some still, anyway), and Google has created yet another Doodle on the homepage to look back at the most noteworthy Google Doodles of 2012.

Google celebrated a multitude of events this year via its interactive and awe-inspiring Google Doodles, such as: the 200th Anniversary of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, 161st Anniversary of Moby Dick’s First Publishing, 107th Anniversary of Little Nemo in Slumberland, 79th Anniversary of the First Drive-in Movie, and more.

Many of the year’s most talked about Doodles are re-imagined in Google’s latest masterpiece above. Visit www.google.com to browse the other notables. Google also posted a link on the homepage to Zeitgeist 2012, so Web surfers can “watch and remember the biggest moments of 2012.”

The Internet Giant’s 12th annual Zeitgeist report provides insight into the most popular search queries over the year. Get more Zeitgeist data in the video below, or just check out 9to5Google’s full breakdown of the stats.

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Google launches web ad promoting its iOS presence, encourages iOS developers to do work that ‘matters’

Since the removal of YouTube, and Maps as preloaded Google apps within iOS, Google has been especially adept at developing its own set of iOS apps. We previously detailed how Google wants to own the iOS ecosystem on the apps level, providing users with an alternative universe to most of the core features of Apple’s mobile operating system.

Even with its dominance on the App Store top charts as of late, Google has launched a web ad campaign, including on the 9to5 sites, promoting its presence throughout iOS. Google detailed what its iOS apps have to offer in the video above, including: Google Search, YouTube, Chrome, and Gmail. Google Maps is noticeably absent (we assumed that is because of when this ad was made).

The focal point of the advertisement is Google’s attempt to recruit software engineers for its iOS mobile apps team. “Do cool things that matter” the advertisement brags, almost as if Apple’s set of apps doesn’t bring any benefit to iOS users. The advertisement links to a page with a full breakdown of what the Google iOS mobile apps team has to offer and a chance for prospective employees to apply for a job. “It’s fun. People have misconception that we just copy and paste existing Google products to the iOS platform. But we have a lot of freedom and try to innovate beyond anything that Google’s done so far,” the page states. “We are always working on ideas to push the envelope on mobile search, and we collaborate closely with Google Web Search engineers to implement new features.” Interestingly, the iOS mobile apps team appears to be working as one unit now, rather than each app being done by a separate group.

It is true that Google’s iOS apps have their own distinctive design language, much different from their Android counterparts. As an example, critics claimed that the Maps application on iOS is better than the Android app—something that Google doesn’t dispute.

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BlueStacks now lets you run every Android app on Mac or PC as it moves to beta

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In June, we told you about BlueStacks. It is a tool that allows Android apps to run on a Mac. The alpha only officially supported 17 Android apps, with Pulse and Words with Friends being the two of the more notable apps at launch, but the application has improved immensely. As Venture Beat first noted, BlueStacks has moved into beta this morning. It now allows users to run every Android app that the Google Play store has to offer. Some may be puzzled at the need to run a mobile application on the desktop, but it does come in use for apps like Instagram and Flipboard that have no desktop equivalent. BlueStacks reminds us a lot of Parallels or VM Ware, and it definitely becomes more useful with the added apps.

As of earlier this month, the Silicon Valley-based company passed 5 million installs on both Windows and Mac. BlueStacks also plans an even more impressive growth with partners AMD and ASUS, as TechCrunch noted, where the software would be pre-installed on over 100 million devices. Upcoming features include an App Discovery system in the Mac app to make it easier for users to find apps. Interested? You can download the beta from BlueStacks.

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Google is winning on Microsoft’s business turf, including over 2:1 ratio in Federal agencies

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The New York Times is out today with a piece that profiled Google’s Apps for Business service push and how Google has slowly captured a large cut of the market that previously belonged to Microsoft. While noting Google Apps is winning out for many businesses due to its $50 per person cost of entry, compared to Microsoft Office’s $400 per computer, the report also highlighted Google’s dominance among government agencies. According to the report that cited the General Services Administration, Google has won 23 of the 42 government contracts it competed for. Microsoft and VMware’s Zimbra won the remaining contracts:

But according to the General Services Administration, out of 42 federal government contracts for which Google and Microsoft competed in 2012, Google won 23 deals, and Microsoft 10. The rest went to another company, Zimbra, which is owned by VMware, a maker of cloud software.

Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal noted Google Apps has generated close to $1 billion in sales, while Google also confirmed it has no plans to develop for Windows 8. However, according to Microsoft’s business division general manager Julia White, Google is not yet a threat:

Microsoft says it does not yet see a threat. Google “has not yet shown they are truly serious,” said Julia White, a general manager in Microsoft’s business division. “From the outside, they are an advertising company.” In 2011, 96 percent of Google’s revenue came from advertising.