Controversial War on Drugs hangout with Mexican narco baron Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman Loera airing on YouTube on March 13

I am a huge fan of National Geographic’s documentaries on the narcotics industry, especially shows like “Drugs, Inc.” and “Banged Up Abroad.” To be perfectly clear, I am enjoying them for educational purposes only. Now, touching on this age-defining question, Versus from Intelligenceteamed with Google to bring a debate on the drugs industry to its users.

It is chaired by BBC newsreader and presenter Emily Maitlis and will also feature WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, British tycoon Richard Branson, English entertainer Russell Brand, the former presidents from Mexico and Brazil, and others.

It is the first in a series of global debates in co-operation with Versus that will occur through Google+ Hangouts and stream on YouTube. A post over at the official Google blog said the first motion up for debate is: “It’s time to end the War on Drugs.” You can join the hangout on Google+ here.

 

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Google Wallet coming to 10 more Sprint devices in 2012

Google Wallet’s Vice President Osama Bedier said United States carrier Sprint Nextel would receive 10 additional phones with Google Wallet support this year.

Bedier spoke at “Mobile World Congress 2012” show in Barcelona this week during the “Mobile Money: Delivering Innovative Mobile Payment Services” panel. He said Google Wallet support is expanding to the upcoming LG Viper this spring with roll outs slated for a suite of additional smartphones soon after…

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HTC’s Beats Audio sound profile ported for all Gingerbread devices

You are probably familiar with Beats by Dre headphones that HTC now packages with many of its smartphones after inking a $300 million deal with the company last year. Those devices are  apparently supposed to pack the Beats Audio unique sound profile—an audio equalizer that is arguably the secret sauce to the Beats Audio and Beats by Dre success. Thankfully, all Gingerbread Android users can soon take advantage with XDA forum member fuss132 porting the sound profile to work with all Gingerbread Roms. So how do you do it? The original forum post (via TechCrunch) contains everything you need. Moreover, fuss132 explained no application is needed, simply “download the attached .zip file, flash it through CWM.” The image above compares the same song before the Beats sound profile (left) and then after (right) on a Galaxy SLc.  Read more

Google Maps for Android is MWC’s Best Consumer Mobile Service

The Android team announced today in a post over at Google+ that Google’s mapping service on Android won the Best Consumer Mobile Service Award at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, Spain. For mobile users, the Google Maps mobile app, including Google’s other location and mapping offerings, is a reason alone to get an Android handset as many would not be able to get around without it. Though Apple also has a native iOS Maps app that taps into the Google Maps backend, and Google itself provides a surprisingly capable web app, Google Maps for mobile looks and works best on Android smartphones. Perhaps not surprisingly, the latest and greatest Maps features début on Android first. For example: Advanced (and free) turn-by-turn GPS navigation for driving, and walking and public transit directions with 3D views that integrate nicely with Google’s other location-based services like Latitude and Places.

In case you were wondering, the Device Manufacturer of the Year award went to Samsung, which also got the Best Smartphone award for the Galaxy S II. New features in Google’s location-based products are now introducing regularly. The latest update to the Google Maps for Android app brought improved transit navigation and more accurate positioning and indoor maps. Google has a nice interactive overview of Google Maps for newbies here.
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Samsung awarded Device Manufacturer of the Year and Best Smartphone for Galaxy S II at MWC 2012

The Mobile World Congress has now officially kicked off and we brought you the highlights from Eric Schmidt’s keynote presentation earlier today. In other MWC news, Samsung was awarded Device Manufacturer of the Year by hosts GSMA of MWC 2012 in Barcelona. It is an organization dedicated to protecting the “interests of mobile operators worldwide.” Samsung was also awarded Best Smartphone for the Galaxy S II. According to Samsung, the award is “in recognition of the device’s powerful performance and overwhelming response from consumers.” Samsung noted the Galaxy S II is its fastest selling device in history with over 10 million units sold in just 5 months and 20 million in 10 months.

Samsung’s President of IT & Mobile Communications Division JK Shin said the following:

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Updated Google Wallet and Google+ for Android roll out in Market

If you have not yet noticed them, Google started rolling out updates to both the Google Wallet and Google+ for Android apps today. The Google+ update available does not contain much beyond the typical “stability improvements and bug fixes,” but Google Wallet received several new features including support for PO Boxes and an “increased allowable address length” for Prepaid Cards. It also has enhancements to the Core Wallet system and syncing of rewards cards. You can find the Google Wallet update in the Market here. Read more

MWC 2012: Eric Schmidt’s keynote round-up [VIDEO]

From robots to holographic telepresence, Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt took the time at Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona yesterday to discuss where the Mountain View, Calif.-based Company is in the world and what the future holds in the technology realm.

Google’s Hugo Berro showcases Chrome for Android in the first 10 minutes of the keynote (video is above). The nugget to his presentation is that Chrome is fast, secure, and free.

“People say in Ice Cream Sandwich that we got the UI right, we got it right for the global audience, and you see the benefits when you see Chrome,” contributed Schmidt to Berro’s lecture. Upon the concluding statements about Chrome, Schmidt led the stage with an announcement that he wanted to talk about the state of the world and “the world that we all operate in, because I think getting this right—the stakes are huge.”

Schmidt mentioned the potential for growth among the millions in the world who have never played Angry Birds and “never got into the Android vs. iOS argument,” but he also hypothesized about the future. While claiming technologies like holograms, virtual reality, and self-driving cars will be commonplace “quite soon,” Schmidt described a scenario where one could “dispatch a robot”:

“…you need to go to a conference across the world for work and it’s the same time your favorite artist is playing live, in the future you’ll be able to dispatch a robot… to each venue, allowing you to experience both events… using a 3D screen and a control system”

More information is available below.

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Google Music leap year sale: 29 albums for $2.99

Google is currently advertising a one-day leap year sale for Google Music that will let you grab 29 select albums for just $2.99 each. Among the albums offered include Lana Del Rey’s “Born To Die,” Drake’s “Take Care,” Rihanna’s “Talk That Talk,” Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black,” Jay-Z’s “Watch The Throne,” Van Halen’s “A Different Kind of Truth,” Lil Wayne’s “The Carter IV,” Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of The Moon,” Eminem’s “Recovery,” and The Band Perry’s self-titled album. All 29 albums should be advertised in a special section in the Google Music store shortly, but the albums listed above are already available for $2.99.
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Android Market data suggests under a million Google TV 2.0 upgrades

Google and its partners do not divulge Google TV sales data. This makes figuring just how many Sony Google TV units and Logitech Revue boxes there are in the wild anyone’s guess. According to GigaOM, less than a million of Google TV 2.0 devices by Sony and Logitech are in active use. The publication came to this number by observing Google’s own install data in Android Market for the Movies & TV app for the Google TV platform. This program is part of the Google TV 2.0 software update, so it gives a clue on the number of Google TVs:

The active install base for this app, according to Google’s Android Market, currently is 500,000 to 1 million. The same is true for all the other apps that come pre-installed with Google TV, which suggests that the number of Google TV devices that are currently being used by consumers is less than 1 million.

There is a problem with GigaOM’s logic, however, as it is assuming everyone updated to the Google TV 2.0 software. The update is available to all Google TV 1.0 devices, but many folks might not have upgraded. They either do not care or their set-top box is sitting in the trashcan not being used at all…
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French privacy agency tries to kibosh Google’s privacy policy just days before roll out

The National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties announced today that Google’s new privacy policy might violate European Union law.

The allegation comes just days before the Mountain View, Calif.-based Internet giant planned to enact the policy that unveiled last month. Google said the updated policy streamlined privacy practices for 60 different services engaged around the globe to bring transparency and clarity.

“We’re getting rid of over 60 different privacy policies across Google and replacing them with one that’s a lot shorter and easier to read,” explained Google’s policy website.

A portion of the letter.

The French privacy agency picked a bone with the search engine’s intent and wrote a letter (PDF) to Google’s Chief Executive Officer Larry Page that painted the new rules as questionable. The central focus of the letter inquired how Google would use the reaped private data, but it is well-known the advertising firm collects personal information from tracking cookies to build targeted ads.

“Rather than promoting transparency, the terms of the new policy and the fact that Google claims publicly that it will combine data across services raises fears about Google’s actual practices,” wrote the agency, also known as CNIL, in the letter. “Our preliminary investigation shows that it is extremely difficult to know exactly which data is combined between which services for which purposes, even for trained privacy professionals.”

The new policy takes effect March 1, and while users’ privacy preferences remain, the new arrangement allows Google to gather and implement user data across its services. Google is charging ahead with Search plus Your World, Gmail, Picasa, YouTube, and Google+, so it is probably just connecting all the loose legal ends to make one continuous experience….

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Chrome extension prevents Google from tracking cookies for personalized ads

Everyone knows that Google can dodge privacy features in Internet browsers, renounce third-party cookie policies, and supply personalized ads despite a user’s privacy setting. Privacy regulators, advocates and consumers alike have called upon Google and other advertising companies to abide by browser’s do-not-track policies, but Google already stepped to the plate with a solution for suspicious users that do not want to be tracked.

Keep My Opt Outs” is a Chrome browser extension that blocks all cookies harvested for personalized ads. The evasive cookies under fire in the media essentially follow a user’s trail across websites to collect history for data reaping. The particulars help Google supply targeted advertisements. All Web browsers include a built-in setting to block this information-cropping process, but Google and other firms use a distinct code to disable the setting in Safari and Internet Explorer.

“Keep My Opt-Outs is an extension for users who aren’t comfortable with personalization of the ads they see on the web. It’s a one-step, persistent opt-out of personalized advertising and related data tracking performed by companies adopting the industry privacy standards for online advertising,” wrote Google on the Chrome webstore

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