Google releases note-taking and organization service Google Keep for Android 4.0 and above (Video)

Google just released note-taking and organization app Google Keep on the Play Store.

Google Keep is available starting Wednesday for Android devices running Ice Cream Sandwich and above, but Keep users can also access, edit, and create their notes on the Web via Google Drive.

The official Google blog has the story:

Every day we all see, hear or think of things we need to remember. Usually we grab a pad of sticky-notes, scribble a reminder and put it on the desk, the fridge or the relevant page of a magazine. Unfortunately, if you’re like me you probably often discover that the desk, fridge or magazine wasn’t such a clever place to leave the note after all…it’s rarely where you need it when you need it. To solve this problem we’ve created Google Keep. With Keep you can quickly jot ideas down when you think of them and even include checklists and photos to keep track of what’s important to you. Your notes are safely stored in Google Drive and synced to all your devices so you can always have them at hand.

Google Keep clearly includes some Evernote-esque functionality, as 9to5Google reported previously, but it notably also auto-transcribes voice memos that are easy to search and find. What’s more: If users finish with a note, they can apply Gmail-like actions such as archive or delete.

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Galaxy Tab III, Note III, slated for September release at IFA

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Rumors have swirled recently about the Galaxy Note III launching soon and that it will boast a screen anywhere between 5.9-inches all the way up to 6.3-inches. A new report from SamMobile seems to add a little unofficial confirmation to its release date. According to an “insider,” the Galaxy Note III, along with an updated Galaxy Tab, is scheduled for release at IFA in Berlin. The report also suggested that Samsung would push out one final update to the current Galaxy Tab II, Android 4.2.2. If it is true that Samsung will no longer update the Galaxy Tab II after Android 4.2.2, the likelihood of a new tablet seems apparent.

The move wouldn’t be a surprise, because the original Galaxy Note was released at IFA in Berlin.

SanMobile claimed its source gave them no word about device specifications, so at the moment it’s unclear if these new devices will adopt the Octa-core processor found in the recently announced Galaxy S IV.

Motorola advisor Guy Kawasaki hints at rumored customizable hardware for upcoming smartphones

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After joining Motorola as an advisor late last month, former long-time Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki appears to be dropping some big hints about the company’s upcoming plans in the smartphone space. In a post to his Google+ account (via DroidLife), Kawasaki posted a link to a video detailing customization options offered by Porsche and posing the question, “Wouldn’t it be great if you could personalize your phone like this?”

This has of course lead to speculation that Kawasaki is referring to the ability customize an upcoming Motorola device at the time of purchase, something that recent reports indicate could be in the plans for Motorola’s much rumored X Phone. AndroidandMe and other blogs have reported that the Motorola’s X Phone could include hardware customization options, but also the ability to preload apps, ringtone, wallpapers, etc, features that other devices have offered versions of in the past.

The latest rumors claim X Phone could see an official release by June and its possible we could get our first look at the device in May during Google I/O.

Google Trends adds YouTube search and 5 years of video data

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Google Trends announced on Wednesday that it added YouTube search and video data from 2008 to present.

Google Trends allows users to search any term they’d like and browse search volume statistics, but now users can go to the left panel on Trends, choose “limit to”, and then select YouTube for a closer look at video trends.

Google gave example search query interests on the YouTube Trends blog, such as whether the “Harlem Shake” meme is over, and showcased how Trends provides a more detailed look at videos, terms, and topics overtime.

By the way, Harlem Shake is still going strong.

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2013 to be the year of the $99 7-inch tablet? (Update: not for Amazon)

TechCrunch has reported on rumors of a $99 7-inch Kindle Fire HD in the works, following earlier speculation about both Google and Acer tablets at the same price-point.

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Of course, there are no shortages of cheap tablets, some refurbs even going as low as $50. What all the devices at that kind of price-point have in common, however, is that they are all utterly appalling. Most have less-responsive resistive rather than capacitive touchscreens, run ancient versions of Android and don’t have access to the Play Store. The challenge is to create something usable in the double-digit price range, and that means enough processing power to handle HD video or at least at 720p.

If TechCrunch‘s sources are right, and they do seem remarkably specific, the new Amazon tablet supposedly shipping this year could be that device:

According to what we’ve heard, the $99 Kindle Fire HD will also still sport a TI processor like the rest of the lineup, and will have a 1280×600 resolution, like today’s Kindle Fire HD 7″ does.

Update: Amazon has told BusinessInsider that it is not readying a $99 Kindle tablet: “It’s not happening–we are already at the lowest price points possible for that hardware.”

IDC Research Director Tom Mainelli said the rumour is credible because Amazon doesn’t need to make its money on the hardware.

The infrastructure is definitely in place for Amazon to go even lower. If they can sell the product at roughly what it costs to build, that fits their long-term vision to make money selling you content on that device. It’s entirely possible – physically possible – to create a device that costs $99, particularly at the scale that Amazon would do it.

Amazon CEO Jess Bezos has previously confirmed that it sells hardware at cost to maximize sales opportunity for books.

There have been suggestions that the Asus ME172V may be Google’s $99 tablet, with a 1Ghz CPU and a 400MHz Mali GPU driving a 1,024-by-600 screen. Geek.com, in the meantime, said Acer is working on a similar 1.4GHz dual-core processor with the same screen resolution and 1GB of RAM.

While the credibility of some of the specific claims may be questioned (especially when some of them originate from the notoriously unreliable Digitimes), the likelihood that all of them amount to nothing seems slim. At some stage this year, possibly as soon as Google’s I/O developer’s conference in May, we’re going to see a usable 7-inch tablet break the $100 barrier and likely some happy kids at Christmas.

Will this threaten Apple’s market and margins? So far, the company has remained relatively immune to the influx of cheaper tablets, but as CEO Tim Cook has himself said, if Apple doesn’t cannibalize its own market, someone else will. A decent $99 tablet will pull down prices of better-specced ones, and no brand —not even one with the halo effect enjoyed by Apple— can remain immune to market forces forever.

Microsoft ad pitches Lumia Windows phone against a year old Android

In a rather odd ad campaign spotted by GeekWire, Microsoft is running the kind of ad used by soap powder brands in the 1980s: showing owners of a competitor brand being converted to the wonders of the client’s product.

The datedness of the ad technique is not the only odd thing about the ad: it’s also pitching the Lumia 920 against the Samsung Galaxy S3, a handset just superseded by the S4. While the S4 is a relatively minor refresh, the high-profile nature of the launch means that those in the market for a new phone can hardly be unaware of it.

GeekWire also noted that while the ad is a relatively bold move by a company that has so far failed to make much of a splash with Windows Phones, Microsoft has stopped short of trying to take on the iPhone.

Google officially adds ‘Animated’ and ‘Transparent’ image search filters for GIFs

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Google now offers image search filters for GIFs.

Starting sometime today, according to Google on Google+, Web surfers can go to “Search tools” below the search box and select “Animated” under the “Any type” drop-down box to view GIF files in the result pane.

Reports surfaced Tuesday morning that indicated Google could soon launch filters to refine results for transparent and animated images, and now Google has confirmed those rumors. It also implemented, as previously speculated,  a “Transparent” option under the “Any color” drop-down box.

Also—Google served up a little GIF trivia on Google+:

Even if you’re a fan of animated gifs—say you were the first to email your friends the slow loris very slowly eating a rice ball (goo.gl/KDDX1)—you may not know that the origins of animation go as far back as 1879 and Eadweard Muybridge’s “zoopraxiscope” (see our doodle homage to Muybridge:goo.gl/PGQW3). Gifs have been around since 1987 and have become the de facto standard for short animations on the web, from pony glitter text (goo.gl/iZoEZ) to grumpy cat memes (goo.gl/bC9um).

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Google launches ‘The Peanut Gallery’ Chrome experiment to showcase Web Speech API (Video)

Google updated Chrome last month with a Web Speech API in over 30 languages that allows developers to integrate speech-recognition features into their Web apps, and now the company has launched a silent movie-era Chrome experiment, called “The Peanut Gallery”, that looks to showcase the month-old API.

The official Google blog has the story:

Last month, the Web Speech API brought voice recognition to Chrome users in more than 30 languages. We thought it would be fun to demonstrate this new technology by using an old one: silent film. The Peanut Gallery lets you add intertitles to old black-and-white movie clips just by talking out loud while you watch them. Create a film and share it with friends, so they can bring out their inner screenwriters too.

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Google Drive launches new API with realtime-editing functions (Video)

Google launched a new Google Drive API on Tuesday that allows developers take advantage of realtime-editing functions.

Google Drive is known for its collaborative features, and now third-party app developers can specifically use the service’s new API to collaborate and edit text, spreadsheets, and presentations alongside other web users who can see the changes implement live.

“This new API handles network communication, storage, presence, conflict resolution, and other collaborative details so you can focus on building great apps,” explained Google on the Google Developers blog.

Drive users can notably edit their own work now, while simultaneously viewing real-time comments and changes from other users, and no longer need to download and re-upload entire documents for others to use. The Drive API will also keep track of who is connected and provide events for when collaborators join, leave, or make changes.

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Google brings Chromebooks to Canada, Australia, Germany, Ireland, France, and the Netherlands

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Google made an announcement on the Official Chrome Blog to confirm that it is rolling out Chromebooks to new countries starting today. After successful launches in the United States and United Kingdom, Google has partnered with retailers in a handful of other countries to bring the latest Chromebooks from Samsung, HP, and Acer to new parts of the world including: Canada, Australia, Germany, Ireland, France, and the Netherlands.

Google will also expand the number of U.S. outlets offering the devices in the next few weeks to 1,000 Best Buy stores nationwide. The company didn’t mention its own, recently announced Chromebook Pixel model or whether it is available to purchase in the newly added countries.

Many of you around the world have told us you’re eager to get your hands on a Chromebook, so we’ve been working with our partners to make this possible. Today we’re happy to say we’re one step closer to making Chromebooks truly “for everyone” — or rather, pour tout le monde, für alle, and voor iedereen

Canada: In Canada the devices will launch through BestBuy.ca a Futureshop.ca with the Samsung ($269.99) and Acer ($249.99) models, while the $329.99 HP Chromebook will be available through HPshopping.ca.

Australia: Australians get access to the Samsung and Acer Chromebooks elect JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman stores, while the HP Chromebook will be coming soon.

France: Customers in France get access to the 299 euro Samsung Chromebook starting today through “Fnac.com, Ticketmaster, Amazon and Pixmania, as well as 10 Fnac stores in the Paris region.”

Germany: In Germany the Samsung model will sell through”-buyerAmazonCyberport and Saturn on the Internet and in the Saturn store on Hamburg’s Mönckebergstraß.” The Acer model will sell through “SaturnCyberport-buyer and Amazon.”

Netherlands: In the Netherlands the Samsung and Acer models will be available to purchase through  “mediamarkt.nlsaturn.nl and laptopshop.nl and in the store at all 41 Mediamarkt and Saturn stores.”

Google also announced that the Chromebooks will be available to businesses and schools in the new countries and explained in detail in a post on its Enterprise blog.

“To help improve computing for organizations, we’re rolling out Chromebooks to businesses and schools in these same countries as well. Learn more on our Enterprise blog.”

The Samsung Galaxy S4’s 1.9GHz Snapdragon 600 doubles Geekbench score of iPhone 5 and BlackBerry Z10

…and that’s the slow one.

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Primate Labs, the company behind the Geekbench speed-ranking system, has compared the Galaxy S4 with all the flagship phones from various vendors including LG, HTC, Blackberry, and Apple. The Quad-core 1.9GHz Qualcomm SnapDragon 600 + 2GB of RAM seems to wipe the floor with the competition.

The scary news is that the non-LTE version of this phone uses an Octocore Samsung Exynos chip with Imagination GPU that is likely to be even faster, putting it further out in the field against the competitor’s devices.

As always, these speed tests are subjective and there are likely to be faster phones released every month or so.

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