Chrome stable hits version 21 with Retina fonts/graphics

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Chrome stable just hit version 21, so you can move back to stable from Canary if you have a Retina MacBook Pro. Other goodies include:

  • Chrome now includes the getUserMedia API, which lets you grant web apps access to your camera and microphone without a plug-in. The getUserMedia API is the first step in WebRTC, a new real-time communications standard which aims to allow high-quality video and audio communication on the web.
  • The getUserMedia API also allows web apps to create awesome new experiences like Webcam Toyand Magic Xylophone. In Chrome Web Lab, if you’re on the latest version of Chrome, the Sketchbots experiment uses getUserMedia to let you take a picture of your face, which is then converted to a line drawing and sent to a robot in the Science Museum in London. The robot then draws out your portrait in a patch of sand, which you can watch live on YouTube and visitors can watch in person at the museum. It’s just about as crazy as it sounds, and twice as cool.
  • In addition, today’s Stable channel release includes deeper Google Cloud Print integration,expanded support for gamepads, and support for high-resolution Mac Retina screens. To check it all out, just download Google Chrome.

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Apple vs. Samsung: Opening Statements in the (Patent) trial of the century

Apple and Samsung appeared in a San Jose federal court today, where U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh presides, to give opening statements starting at 9 a.m. PST.

Apple filed the first suit in this monumental case in April 2011. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company claimed Samsung infringed its patents by “slavishly copying” its iPhone. Samsung, a South Korea-based Company, promptly countersued.

This is one of the important cases to go to trial among a slew of other litigations on smartphone patents. If Apple wins, Samsung could suffer a financial blow and the ability to sell its infringing products in a large market. If Apple loses, its “thermonuclear war” against Android smartphone manufacturers could essentially wither away as Samsung collects royalty fees.

This morning’s most notable highlights are below (continually updated).

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Microsoft willing to settle with Google/Motorola, posts call for ‘A Solid Foundation for Patent Peace’

Microsoft is no stranger to signing up Android vendors to licensing agreements. Most of the major Android device manufactures are already paying the company royalties, and Microsoft is currently involved in various cases with Motorola in the U.S. and elsewhere. The latest from Microsoft’s intellectual property group is a statement posted by the group’s head Horacio Gutierrez and Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith (via AllThingsD). In a message titled “A Solid Foundation for Peace”, Microsoft explained its willingness to negotiate a settlement of its current litigation with Motorola:

Microsoft has always been, and remains open to, a settlement of our patent litigation with Motorola. As we have said before, we are seeking solely the same level of reasonable compensation for our patented intellectual property that numerous other Android distributors – both large and small – have already agreed to recognize in our negotiations with them. And we stand ready to pay reasonable compensation for Motorola’s patented intellectual property as well.

However, within the post, Microsoft also noted its requirements for reaching a settlement over its various Android-related patent cases with Motorola—which include a comprehensive agreement covering all patents in question:
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Verizon stops blocking tethering apps on Android, settles for $1.25M fine

So, those tethering apps that Verizon use to block on the Google Play store?  Not cool, says the Federal Communications Commission. In fact, Verizon had to pony up $1.25 million for the trouble, according to a press release issued by the F.C.C. today.

The F.C.C. determined that the nation’s largest wireless carrier, according to GigaOm, was in the wrong in this situation, because Verizon purchased spectrum in 2008 that required it to allow open access to its network. Whoops!

The press release follows:

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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s sister is now a Google Employee

Funny Story: Google just picked up Wildfire, the social networking analytics company for a reported $250 million.

As BI notes, one of those Wildfire employees that will be integrated into Google is Zuck’s sister, Arielle. Clearly, there might be some issues with hiring the sister of who founded Google’s major competitor. But, these things happen.

Arielle Zuckerberg is a junior product manager at Wildfire, and she maintains a blog where she even critiques Facebook on its design.

It will be very interesting to see if she joins Google with her colleagues.

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Google buys social ad firm Wildfire for a reported $250M

Google just acquired social media marketing company Wildfire.

AllThingsD reported “people familiar with the transaction” estimate Google bought the social ad business for $250 million, “plus earnouts, employment agreements, etc.”

Wildfire currently serves 16,000 customers, including 30 of the top 50 brands, and it reportedly raised $14 million since founding in 2008. Google will likely merge Wildfire into its ever-expanding social and advertising services to better entice marketers into buying either traditional or display ads for a variety of platforms— even direct rival Facebook.

Both companies took to their respective blogs today to confirm the buyout (below).

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Chrome OS users might receive 100GB of Google Drive storage for free

As first reported by Chrome Story, owners of newer Chromebooks and Chromeboxes might soon get their hands on more cloud storage…for free. According to references discovered in Chromium OS code, the storage increase will most likely come soon in the way of Google Drive Google currently makes 5 GB available free to users for storing files and documents.

According to the code reference “553 GDATA_WELCOME_TITLE_ALTERNATIVE: ‘Get 100 GB free with Google Drive’,” it sounds very likely that users will be able to receive 100 GB of cloud storage for free. That is definitely useful, especially considering most Chrome OS devices only have 16 GB of local storage. We will let you know when the 100 GB goes official.

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Leaked slides reveal Android-powered Sony Xperia tablet, Surface touch cover-like keyboard, starts at $449.99 [Photos]

German news website Mobiflip appears to have leaked slides of the Sony Experia tablet.

The images depict a device, called the “Xperia Sony Tablet”, featuring a Tegra 3 processor, Android 4.0 or later, up to 64GB of built-in storage, 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, 6000mAh battery, and a 8.8mm aluminum shell that is 42 percent thinner than the Tablet S.

Perhaps most interesting is the new super-thin keyboard that resembles the Touch cover keyboard that Microsoft announced earlier this year with its Surface Tablet. The Sony Experia’s keyboard cover seals the entire tablet and doubles as a kickstand.

One slide assigned the keyboard cover a $99.99 retail price tag, while the tablet is $449.99 for the 16 GB model, $549.99 for the 32 GB, and $649.99 for the 64 GB. A release date is notable absent.

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WSJ: Google spending another $200M on YouTube channels

After announcing it would invest around $100 million in original TV quality content for YouTube last year, Google added almost a 100 new channels offering high-quality content. Today, we get some updates on the progress of the project from a report in The Wall Street Journal. According to WSJ’s sources, advertisers already committed over $150 million in ads on the channels for this year alone. Google also plans to throw another $200 million at the effort going forward. Google will also apparently fund content for international viewers:

YouTube plans to expand its channels initiative to Europe by funding a couple dozen video channels for British and French viewers by next year, according to people familiar with its initiative.

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Spotify for Android updated with radio streaming feature

In addition to announcing that the service is now up to 15 million active users and 4 million paying subscribers worldwide, Spotify also announced today that it is rolling out the radio streaming feature (previously only available on iOS) to Android. Same as the iPhone version, the feature provides ad-free radio streams for premium subs and ad-supported streams for free accounts. Unfortunately, the free streams are U.S. only at the moment. You can also save songs from radio streams to a “Liked from Radio” playlist.

What’s in this version:

There’s a great new radio experience in Spotify. Now you can discover and save music on the go! If your station plays a song you really like, save it with a single tap.
New: Start a radio station based on your favorite playlist, genre, album, artist or song.
New: Personalize your radio stations by voting songs up or down.

Planned NYC Subway changes now built in to Google Maps

New Yorkers and people visiting our fair city will appreciate Google’s latest update to Maps: Subway schedule changes are now built-in. That means you can see what kind of outages you are in for (especially helpful on the weekends!) when you are heading toward a subway station. While we once had to check the MTA’s website, this is much easier and more direct. From the blog post:

  • Since first making New York City public transit directions available in Google Maps, we’ve been working to deliver you with the most accurate and useful information about subway, bus, commuter rail, and ferry service across the greater metro area. Starting today, we’ll also be showing planned service alerts for the city’s subways, which serve more than 200 million people every year.
  • Have you ever arrived at a subway platform only to find that the train you intended to take is skipping stops, rerouted on another line, or isn’t running at all due to scheduled maintenance? Now when you click on any of the 468 New York City subway stations labeled on Google Maps, you’ll see whether any planned service changes are expected to affect that station at the time. In addition, the relevant alerts will be included in the step-by-step transit directions pointing you wherever you’re going. Read more