Google posts new page detailing URL takedowns, Microsoft leads with most requests

Google posted a new page on its Transparency Report that details content the company has been forced to remove from its search engine (via The Verge). The information is interesting, because it gives us a look at how often Google is asked to remove something for all to see. During this past month, the team in Mountain View, Calif., was forced to remove 1,246,713 links from its pages, and non other than Microsoft is leading the requests. The Redmond, Wash.-based Company requested that Google remove 543,378 links this month, followed by a British recording company and NBC Universal. As you can see in the graph below, the number of takedown requests served has increased dramatically over the last nine months—ever since Google started keeping track in July of last year. So why is Google publishing the data now? The company said, “As policymakers and Internet users around the world consider the pros and cons of different proposals to address the problem of online copyright infringement, we hope this data will contribute to the discussion.” The takedown requests by the record labels are not surprising, but Microsoft leading the pack certainly is.

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Review: Sprint’s HTC EVO One — Amazing phone, bad timing


Original EVO 4G, left, new, less 4G EVO ONE, right

When the original HTC EVO launched on Sprint two years ago, it was a game-changer of a phone. It was the first Android device with a 4.3-inch display, 1GHz Processor, 4G WiMAX, and a host of other new technologies including something important that is often jokingly overlooked: a kickstand.

Consider this: Nokia’s current flagship Windows Phone 7 device carries the same 4.3-inch 800-by-480-pixel resolution and single core processor with 512MB of RAM. This is two years later, mind you. And, there are still lots of other phones that lag behind the original EVO. In fact, in one important way, today’s review-ee, the HTC EVO One, also lacks the original EVO’s ability to do 4G data. (Oh, and what perfect two-year contract renewal timing otherwise!)

Sprint finds itself in the middle of a debilitating transition from WiMAX to LTE on its mobile network. I will not go into the details, because it is water under the bridge, but the long story short is that Sprint is migrating to LTE from its previous 4G technology called “WiMAX.” Sprint has a host of phones running WiMAX now and needs to keep the lights on those devices until 2015 (including offloading some bandwidth to its pre-paid customers). At the same time, it has to eek out some spectrum for a new type of 4G service and still keep those 3Gers happy.


The One Family: Evo One(Sprint), One X (AT&T) and One S (T-Mobile)

Unfortunately, Sprint is only now ramping up its LTE offering as AT&T and Verizon already have many major cities covered. When the EVO One is released today (after a longer than expected layover in customs thanks to Apple), it will not be able to use LTE 4G anywhere. Worse yet, it does not have WiMAX radios, so it is basically on the same level as the iPhone for Sprint customers network-wise.

The original EVO launched at the same time that Sprint’s 4G was rolling out, so you might be saying, “Big deal? The EVO had to wait for 4G and was a success.”

Things have changed immensely over the last two years. If you are buying a superphone in the U.S. now, you expect a super network. The EVO ONE will have to wait a long time to even access a two-year-old-type of 4G speed. Sprint is rolling out its LTE in Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, and San Antonio with some mystery markets, but it should have only 10 markets covered by July. That means only a small percentage of the U.S. is going to be able to really use this phone.

(As an aside, this is Sprint not learning from its WiMAX rollout. Sprint was ahead in its 4G tech by a year, but it chose to roll it out in markets like Baltimore and Portland. By the time it got around to major tech/news hubs like New York and San Francisco, Verizon had already announced LTE rollouts and swallowed Sprint’s tech lead.)

If I am a Sprint user (and I am), there is no way I am going to trade a WiMAX smartphone for a non-working LTE one until more of the network is rolled out. WiMAX works great in New York and San Francisco. In fact, I still use my original EVO as a hotspot, because the network is often better than the other carriers’ 4G in the area. There are no current plans for Sprint LTE in my area (New York City).

If HTC/Sprint could have built a phone with dual WiMAX/LTE radios, I would be all over this phone in a heartbeat. However, as it stands, and until Sprint’s LTE gets more mature, it is hard to recommend.

How is the phone itself?

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iHeartRadio app launches on Google TV

Google TV just launched iHeartRadio on its Smart TV platform in an effort to bring live radio to the big screen.

iHeartRadio is a four-year-old website and mobile radio network that aggregates local radio brands, personalities, and on-demand content. The new Google TV app offers 800 live stations and the ability to create a custom station based on an artist or track. It also sports high-resolution imagery, quick jump options, and seamless navigation for finding local broadcasts by genre or location. Moreover, the app “dims the lights,” so users can listen to music without a blaring screen in the room.

A screenshot of the app is above, while a reel of the service is below. 
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Google opens in-app subscriptions for Google Play apps

Google just unveiled a new feature in Google Play for in-app billing: Subscriptions.

In-app billing launched in Google’s marketplace a year ago to allow developers more opportunities for earning cash with apps. Approximately 23 of the 24 top-grossing apps now take advantage of Google’s money-making service, and Ibrahim Elbouchikhi, Google Play’s product manager, even told 9to5Google in a public statement that the total revenue produced from in-app purchases surpasses revenue from traditional app purchases. The executive further noted the feature is an extreme success, especially because it gives developers multiple monetizing options through “try-and-buy, virtual goods, upgrades, and other popular business models.”

Now, developers have another business model option thanks to today’s newly-announced in-app subscription feature within in-app billing. The feature is quite self-explanatory—users can purchase subscriptions to any type of extra content from an app using any Android device. Some examples of in-app subscription could apply to bonus game levels/maps or and recurring services like journals and magazines. The ability to sell monthly or annual subscriptions in any app is effective immediately, while users can also start buying right away.

“While making it easy for developers to offer a great purchasing experience, our subscriptions are also designed for flexibility,” Elbouchikhi explained. “Developers can use them to monetize premium dynamic content such as journals and magazines, but they can also use them to sell access to bundled products, game levels, music and video content, value-added services, or any other digital content.”

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Google+ for Android app v2.6 showcases tweaked UI, mobile Hangouts, and inline editing

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Google unveiled an updated Google+ app for Android this morning.

The improved app features the option to start a hangout while on the go, as well as the ability to edit posts inline. It even offers an upgraded user-interface with a built-in stream to display content shared across the social network.

With Hangouts we want to help people connect face-to-face-to-face—at any time, from anywhere. Of course, there’s really only one device that’s always by your side—your phone—so we’ve invested in mobile hangouts since early on,” announced Google’s Senior Vice President Vic Gundotra on the official Google blog. 

Tap “Hangout” in the new navigation ribbon, add friends, and then tap “Start” to begin using the mobile feature. If friends miss the Hangout call on their smartphones, Google gives them an opportunity to easily return the call. As for the new stream, Gundotra said Google owes the world an experience “that’s both intimate and immersive.”

“Your time and your relationships are precious, after all, so your posts should make you feel proud. Today’s new Android app takes this to heart, with full-screen media in the stream, conversations that fade into view and instantly-touchable actions like +1,” he added.

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IDC Q1 2012 Numbers: ‘Android and iOS have successfully distanced themselves from the industry’

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Today’s IDC numbers show that iOS and Android continue to dominate the smartphone market. They now account for 82 percent of all smartphones sold when combined, which is up from just over 54 percent a year ago. Android accounts for 59 percent of Smartphones sold, while iOS more than doubled its raw sales numbers by gaining 23 percent of the market. Meanwhile, Symbian, Blackberry, and Microsoft (although the chart above incorrectly doesn’t note it) all fell.

With iOS and Android continuing to grow, and not much in the way of innovation coming from the competition, it seems the smartphone industry is heading toward the same type of duopoly that the PC industry saw over the past three decades.

From the report:

Android finished the quarter as the overall leader among the mobile operating systems by accounting for more than half of all smartphone shipments. In addition, Android boasted the longest list of smartphone vendor partners. Samsung was the largest contributor to Android’s success, because it accounted for 45.4-percent of all Android-based smartphone shipments. But beyond Samsung was a mix of companies retrenching themselves or slowly growing their volumes.

iOS recorded strong year-over-year growth with sustained demand for the iPhone 4S after the holiday quarter and the addition of numerous mobile operators now offering the iPhone for the first time. Although end-user demand remains high, the iPhone’s popularity brings more operational pressures for mobile operators through subsidy and data revenue sharing policies.

The full IDC press release follows: Read more

The verdict is in: Android did not infringe upon Oracle’s patents

A jury decided this morning that Google did not infringe upon Oracle’s patents.

The verdict came unanimously as jurors in the Google vs. Oracle trial found six claims in U.S. Patent RE38,104, including two claims in U.S. Patent number 6,061,520, did not infringe.

“Today’s jury verdict that Android does not infringe Oracle’s patents was a victory not just for Google but the entire Android ecosystem,” announced Google in a public statement, according to CNET.

Oh, and here is Oracle’s public statement on the decision: “Oracle presented overwhelming evidence at trial that Google knew it would fragment and damage Java. We plan to continue to defend and uphold Java’s core write once run anywhere principle and ensure it is protected for the nine million Java developers and the community that depend on Java compatibility.”

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Google VP David Lawee discusses Motorola, says two-thirds of acquisitions are successful

 

Google’s Vice President of Corporate Development David Lawee sat down with MG Siegler today at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York City to discuss the search engine’s history with acquisitions including yesterday’s buyout of Motorola Mobility. 

The entire interview is above (part 2 is below-soon), but the main point of discussion concerns the nugget that Google acquires 20 to 30 companies a year, with an additional 20 or more related to patents, but Lawee said two-thirds of all Google’s acquisitions have been successful. Lawee attributes the success rate to Google’s initiative to only recruit endeavors that will benefit from being a part of Google, rather than to continue existing on their own.

The VP further said each acquisition has its own metrics to determine whether it is successful, while he then mentioned DoubleClick and AdMob as two of Google’s most successful acquisitions. Slide, on the other hand, is one of Google’s failures.

“Sometimes executing on strategy leads other things to fail. [...] 85 percent of that team ended up working for YouTube and they’ve done quite well there,” Lawee explained.

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Manager of Speech Technology Mike Cohen reportedly leaves Google

Boston Globe’s Scott Kirsner shared news yesterday via analyst Walt Tetschner that Google’s head of speech technology Mike Cohen left the company to work on another venture. Google was one of the first companies to start using voice recognition extensively in its products a few years ago, and the technology has now been incorporated into Android and Google’s online properties. Cohen was largely responsible for getting the speech product off the ground, which leaves this a big loss for Google—if deemed true. Kirsner tweeted:

Before Google, Cohen cofounded the popular Nuance Communications, and he spent 10 years working to make it one of the most key speech technology companies out there. According to many unconfirmed reports, Nuance is said to be powering Apple’s speech technology Siri, which was launched last October.

This is a sure loss for Google, because Cohen had tons of experience working with speech. I am sure his expertise would have continued to play a key roll in developing search technology on Android and for other new projects like Project Glass. The news of Cohen’s departure has not been confirmed, but we reached out to our contacts at Google for official word.

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Google Search iPhone app completely redesigned for speed and full screen searching

Google updated its Google Search iPhone app to version 2.0.0 today, which introduced a completely redesigned app that focuses on improvements to speed and full screen browsing features. Among the new features are an auto full screen mode that hides controls when scrolling down and reveals when scrolling up, and a new full-screen image search view.

The updated app also includes “major speed improvements,” a built-in text finder for webpages, and quick links to Gmail, Calendar, Docs, and search options such as images, places, and news. The iPad did not receive the same update, but both the iPhone and iPad will now be able to save images to the iOS camera roll.

A full list of features is below, while the updated app is available on the App Store now.

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Nvidia reveals its new $199 quad-core Tegra 3 tablet project called ‘Kai’, set to compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire

Last month, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang hinted that we might see a $199 Tegra 3 quad-core tablet hit the markets out of Nvidia this summer. Luckily, it looks like that idea is rolling. Nvidia VP Rob Csonger revealed the company’s project to start developing $199 tablets last week, as The Verge first reported. As you can see in the slide above, which was shown at its investor meeting, the platform is called “Kai”. It will focus on developing tablets priced at $199, while featuring Nvidia’s blazing quad-core Tegra 3 system-on-chip.

At $199, the obvious competitor that comes to mind is Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which is arguably one of the best selling Android tablets on the market right now. The Fire is said to have taken up more than 50 percent of Android’s tablet market share, and while the company has not released any official sales numbers, Amazon said the Fire is one of its hottest selling items available. Csonger explained to investors how the tablets out of Kai would be low priced to compete with the Kindle Fire:

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ITC judge recommends Microsoft Xbox import ban in US for infringing on Motorola patents

Image via Phandroid

An administrative law judge for the United States International Trade Commission has recommended a ban on Xbox gaming consoles from importing stateside.

According to the recommendation (PDF), which publicly released yesterday, the U.S. ban of 4 GB and 250 GB consoles would essentially penalize Xbox’s manufacturer, Microsoft, for allegedly infringing on Motorola’s patents. ArsTechnica noted the patents under dispute concern video transmission and compression on the Xbox and between controllers.

“[…] It is recommended that the Commission enter a limited exclusion order against infringing Microsoft products. It is further recommended that the Commission issue a cease and desist order. Additionally, it is recommended that Microsoft be required to post a bond for importation of accused products during the Presidential review period,” stated Administrative Law Judge David P. Shaw in the public recommendation.

Courthouse News emphasized that the bond sum suggested by the judge would equal to 7 percent of Xbox’s unsold inventory value already present in the country.

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