Google purchases iconic Gold’s Gym in Venice, Los Angeles for new SoCal campus

According to a report by Jason Stern at MuscleWeek, the iconic Gold’s Gym in Venice, Los Angeles is set to close in 2014 after 45 years of operation. This would normally not be reported; however, Stern confirmed with the gym’s former owner, Ed Connors, that “Google has bought the building and the surrounding real estate and Los Angeles DUI attorney businesses with grand designs on walling off the streets and creating a SoCal campus to rival its Mountain View ‘university’.”

The worst-kept secret at Gold’s Gym in Venice is that the gym is closing its doors for good when its lease expires on June 30, 2014… Publicly, the gym management continues to emphasize (perhaps ‘misrepresent’ is a better word choice) that Gold’s Gym isn’t going anywhere, but for those in the know, it has become painfully clear that the clock is ticking down to zero…The result: Google Plus. Gold’s Minus.

Google has not confirmed its plans, but there were rumors last year that the company purchased the building home to the landmark Gold’s Gym location.
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Another photo taken with Project Glass shown off on Google+

When Google revealed its Project Glass last month, the team did not actually show what could be produced from the glasses. Sure, it announced the glasses would feature augmented reality and other smartphone-like apps, but nothing along the lines of an actual photograph taken. However, a few weeks ago, a Google X executive went on “Charlie Rose” to speak a little more about the glasses. During the interview, he posted a picture on Google+ actually taken with the glasses. While the picture does not feature groundbreaking quality, it is still cool to see something taken with the glasses.

Today, we got another look at a photo taken with Project Glass. One of the project leaders, Sebastian Thrun, posted on Google+ today a picture taken with the glasses. As you can see above, the quality seems better this time around, but that could just be due to better lighting.

The folks behind Project Glass are still working on getting the prototypes up and running, and it seems to be coming along nicely. At an event last month, Google co-founder Sergey Brin was seen rocking a pair, although, he made a comment at the time that the glasses were just rebooting and no actual features were working. As we reported a few weeks ago, Google is still up in the air about giving out pairs at Google I/O this summer. However, it looks like Google is starting to get some key features working. We cannot wait to hear more.

Vic Gundotra also tried Project Glass, as you can see after the break:

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Gmail introduces interactive Google+ notifications; view, comment, and +1 from your inbox

Google+ always allowed you to receive notification emails for specific activity from the network, such as comments on your posts and when another user mentions or shares with you. Today, Google is making the experience even better for Gmail users by making those notification emails interactive. In Gmail, you can now “view, comment on, and +1 posts” directly from within your inbox. Google noted, “Comments appear in the Google+ stream in real-time, and responses from others instantly appear in Gmail, as part of the notification message.”

Google explained replying to the notification emails is now possible from your mobile device through a “Reply to this email” prompt (pictured, right):

Tap reply, send your comment, and we’ll automatically add it to the ongoing Google+ conversation. Even if you don’t use Gmail, you can still reply by email from many different services.

Google will make these new features available to Gmail/Google+ users over the coming week, and you can always manage your Google+ notifications in settings here.
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Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile launching HTC EVO V 4G as first 4G phone


Coming out of CTIA 2012 today, Virgin Mobile announced it plans to launch the HTC EVO V 4G on May 31 as its first 4G device. Of course, Sprint’s no-contract subsidiary will offer the device without a commitment, which means you will have to hand over $299 and a minimum of $35 per month to get your hands on it.

Virgin also announced today the arrival of the no-contract $35 4G data plans that will go hand-in-hand with the EVO V as outlined in the press release below. Sprint confirmed its EVO V 4G WiMAX variant would come to Boost Mobile also for $300 with data plans as low as $40.

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Google: AT&T’s CEO doesn’t understand how Android phones get updated

Like us, Google appears to be confused by last night’s report—where AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson told a questioner that the fault of Android smartphones not receiving updates is Google’s.

Stephenson blamed Google, claiming, “Google determines what platform gets the newest releases and when. A lot of times, that’s a negotiated arrangement and that’s something we work at hard. We know that’s important to our customers. That’s kind of an ambiguous answer because I can’t give you a direct answer in this setting.”

Google refuted that point of view tonight, telling us:

“Mr. Stephenson’s carefully worded quote caught our attention and frankly we don’t understand what he is referring to. Google does not have any agreements in place that require a negotiation before a handset launches.  Google has always made the latest release of Android available as open source at source.android.com as soon as the first device based on it has launched. This way, we know the software runs error-free on hardware that has been accepted and approved by manufacturers, operators and regulatory agencies such as the FCC. We then release it to the world.”

Is it possible that the former CFO Stephenson does not know the technicalities of what is happening at his own company? It would appear so. Read more

Review: HTC One X on AT&T, One giant leap for HTC

What a difference a year makes for HTC’s devices.  Last year HTC was putting out monster stinkers like the HTC Vivid on AT&T.  We didn’t review the Vivid, but it wasn’t for a lack of time spent with the device. It just wasn’t worth our time or yours. It, just like the Verizon Rezound, was more like a grenade than a phone.

The One X changes all of that.  This is truly a great phone in the same league as the original EVO or the Nexus One. An instant classic.

As impressed as we were with the HTC One S on T-Mobile, the One X on AT&T is going to make some people even happier with its monster 720P 4.7-inch screen and svelte polycarbonate body.  I’ll go ahead and say it: This is the best screen I’ve seen on a mobile phone. Samsung and Apple make great mobile displays but this thing has 180 degree angles that look like a magazine.  Throw some high res. images at the screen and you’ll see the 720P display and 315+PPIs come to life.  Unlike some Samsung screens, this one looks great in sunlight too… Read more

Nevada has issued the first license for the Google self-driving car

Google has been issued the first license to test an autonomous vehicle, which makes it the first license of such kind to be issued in the United States. The Las Vegas Sun reported that the license was issued earlier today after such legislation passed in 2011 to allow testing of the self-driving car. However, under Nevada law, someone must be present behind the wheel. Google’s self-driving cars will feature a red license plate and an infinity symbol on the left side. The Mountain View, Calif.-based Company is currently testing eight of these vehicles—six of which are Toyota Priuses (seen above), an Audi TT, and a Lexus RX450h.

Google received a ton of attention for its project, especially after one of its self-driving cars got in a fender-bender last year. But luckily, that was due to human error. It is going to be interesting to see what Google can make of these. Check out this inspirational video:

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Kindle Fire updated to version 6.3.1, featuring many requested features

If you have a Kindle Fire, go ahead and fire up software update to grab Amazon’s latest update that it pushed out this afternoon. Version 6.3.1 is now available and features many upgrades that have been requested among users. The biggest, perhaps, is the ability to completely block the use of Amazon’s Silk Browser that allows for a safer browsing instance. Also on the subject of the browser, there is a new family setting that can keep youngsters off those, ya’ know… bad sites. Other new features include a new reading view, which is much like the reading view on Safari on both iOS and Mac. The reading view allows for clearer reading and ridding of any scripts that will put in content which just gets in the way. We have the full release notes after the break for your perusal. Check ‘em:

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Droid Incredible 4G officially announced on Verizon

After being confirmed on Verizon Wireless’ Droid DOES page, we knew pretty much everything there is to know about the successor to HTC’s Droid Incredible 2— the Droid Incredible 4G. However, if you needed more confirmation, Big Red and HTC have officially announced the handset, revealing specs and all. The Droid Incredible 4G packs a 4-inch qHD Super LCD screen (960-by-540), 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8-megapixel shooter, and VGA front-facing camera. As for software, the Incredible 4G features Android Ice Cream Sandwich, along with HTC’s custom Sense 4 on top, which is par for the course with smartphones out of the company. As for the release date, Verizon said “in the coming weeks,” and it will be priced at $299 (according to the Droid Does page from a few weeks ago). We will most likely hear more at this week’s CTIA conference, and you bet we will keep a look out. Who’s buying?

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NPD: Android holds 61 percent of total US smartphone sales in Q1 2012

Google’s Android controlled nearly two-thirds of the United States smartphone market in the year’s first quarter.

According to CNET, market research firm NPD Group placed Android’s U.S. market share at 61 percent, which is a dramatic gain from the holiday quarter’s 49 percent.

Meanwhile, Apple’s iOS slid from 41 percent in Q4 2011 to 29 percent in Q1 2012. It is assumed Apple’s October iPhone 4S launch boosted the holiday sales, but Android eventually reclaimed its Q3 2011 crown once the new year settled.

It is worth mentioning that advertising research company Neilsen measured the two smartphone OS manufacturers in March and placed Android at 49.5-percent and iOS at 32 percent for Q1 2012.

This article is cross-posted on 9to5Mac.

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Google boasts 2012 WWW conference contributions

Google just announced, well, boasted, about its involvement with the 2012 World Wide Web conference that occurred last month.

Vice President of Engineering Prabhakar Raghavan took to the Official Google Research Blog this afternoon to detail the search engine’s role in the widely popular and annual series. Google was a major supporter of the conference and even sponsored it, coupled with many Googlers having taken an active role through keynotes and papers.

“More than forty members of Google’s technical staff gathered in Lyon, France in April to participate in the global dialogue around the state of the web at the World Wide Web conference (WWW) 2012,” explained Raghavan. “A decade ago, Larry Page and Sergey Brin applied their research to an information retrieval problem and their work—presented at WWW in 1998—led to the invention of today’s most popular search engine.

The new VP further said Mobile Web in the technical program is becoming more apparent as the conference has “evolve[d] over the years,” and then he noted the WWW community is transitioning from a “classic ‘bag of words’ of web pages” to an “entity-centric view.”

Raghavan is Yahoo’s former chief scientist, but 9to5Google reported that he left the position in March to take an executive job at Google amid massive cuts at the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based search engine.

A list of Googlers and their conference contributions is below:

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Report: Google investing in YouTube content creator Machinima

Following recently signing MGM and Paramount Pictures to add over 1,000 new movies for rent, Google is once again investing in content for YouTube. Today AllThingsD reported the company is about to invest in Machinima, a network featuring videos about videogames that is pulling in about a billion views monthly.

People familiar with the round tell me it should end up raising more than $30 million, and will value the company at around $190 million, post-funding. No comment from Google or Machinima.

The report explained, unlike its past deals with content creators where it recoups over $100 million in investments through ad sales, the Machinima deal would be the first time Google takes an equity stake in a YouTube content provider:
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