At $99, future Nexus Tablets could fill the OLPC role

Taipei-based Digitimes does not have the best track record for predicting product launches; but if its latest rumor is true, Google’s Nexus tablet hardware could soon fill the One Laptop Per Child role. Digitimes claimed today that Asustek and Google are considering releasing two new, refreshed Nexus 7 tablets at new price points. According to the report, an upgraded model would take over the $199 category of the existing 8GB Nexus 7, while the companies would also introduce a $99 entry-level model. The OLPC initiative is still using the XO-1.5 hardware, last updated a couple years ago, but it does plan on producing the new XO-3 tablet at the end of the year. At $99, Nexus 7 could be a viable option going forward. We have not heard anything on these rumors, so we will have to take Digitimes report for what it is until then.

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Google Chairman on Apple patents: ‘there are plenty of prior arts’ and patents shouldn’t be used to block sales

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt is making his way around Asia, and he expanded on remarks made yesterday in Tokyo at the Korean launch of the Nexus 7 today.

Schmidt said Apple “is actually a very good partner. Our two companies are literally talking all the time about everything.” However, he added, “With respect to Apple patents, the best thing we can tell there are plenty of prior arts and I don’t want to go beyond that…”

In relation to Apple’s attempts to block competing Android phones with patents, Schmidt said:

“Literally patent wars prevent choice, prevent innovation and I think that is very bad. We are obviously working through that and trying to make sure we stay on the right side of these issues. So ultimately Google stands for innovation as opposed to patent wars,” …

“I think one of the worst things that happened in the last few years has been the belief that somehow there are so many patents in the mobile phone world, an estimated 200,000 patent that are overlapping and complicated and so forth, that one vendor can stop the sale of another vendor’s phones or devices,” he added.

Schmidt said he would talk to strategic allies on his visit, including Samsung, and he complemented South Korea’s adoption of smartphone technology: Read more

Animated doodle celebrates Google’s 14th birthday [Gallery]

14 Years (before/after)

Google is wishing itself “Happy Birthday” today with an animated doodle of a cake on its homepage.

The animation shows a chocolate cake with 14 candles, and it eventually reveals the company’s colorful name beneath the frosting. Upon clicking the doodle, users simply search for the word “Google”.

Check out more birthday doodles in the gallery below, courtesy of SearchEngineLand.

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Samsung plans to beef up its software by ‘buying rather than building’

Perhaps one of the better known OEMs for adding its own flavor to Android, Samsung says it has plans to beef up its software division in order to drive sales of its hardware. Kang Tae-jin, Samsung’s senior vice president of the Media Solution Center told Reuters in an interview : “The message we’re getting from the top is to raise software capability, and buy rather than build, if needed.” Assumedly, the deals would be further in-line with acquisitions like mobile cloud content service provider mSpot, a company Samsung acquired in May. Samsung used technology from mSpot to add to its Music Hub, which saw a major revamp around the same time that the Galaxy S III was announced earlier this year. Similar acquisitions look to be on the way.

The acquisitions would of course be executed by Samsung in order to better position its software in the market. Samsung adds heavily onto Android with its custom TouchWiz user interface, allowing it to compete with not only other Android OEMs, but also Apple. Like it did with mSpot, Samsung could also acquire larger companies to add to its smaller software features, and from the sounds of it, that looks like what the company is headed to do. Kang went on to say: “We want to grow the Music Hub to rank in the world’s top four services within three years in both revenue and subscriber numbers. And to shorten the time, we’re ready to do more acquisitions, if needed.” A service like Pandora, who is currently in a bit of financial trouble, sounds like a great choice.  Read more

YouTube for Android updated with new UI, video pre-loading on Froyo and Gingerbread devices

Following the release of its new YouTube for iOS app, Google just announced an updated version of its YouTube for Android app this afternoon. The update includes a new UI along with video pre-loading for Froyo and Gingerbread devices. The pre-loading feature allows users to not only save battery and bandwidth but also load videos for later while experiencing a spotty connection. Video pre-loading has been available for Android 4.x devices since last summer.

Furthermore, with the update, users can add videos to their YouTube TV queue to allow for more organized viewing and “more channels to pick from on the Channel store.” You can check out the full change log below, or give the update a spin for yourself by downloading it from the Play store: [Google Play via Google Plus]

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Google now allows users to download all of their YouTube videos thanks to Google Takeout

Thanks to a new addition to Google’s Takeout service, YouTube users can now download all of their videos in one fell swoop. For those unfamiliar, Google’s Takeout service, which is a part of Google’s “Data Liberation Front,” allows users to download key data hosted by Google in one file. Data includes Google Docs, chat history, Picasa albums, and now YouTube videos. To download videos from Google Takeout, you simply visit the source link we provided below and begin downloading the videos in a few simple clicks without any transcoding whatsoever. How nifty! [Takeout via Data Liberation Blog]
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Google Play services platform with Google+ APIs and OAuth 2.0 begins to rollout

Google previewed Google Play services at Google I/O, and it finally just began the official launch of its new platform designed to help developers integrate Google products, such as Google+, into their apps. Google explained the platform “consists of a services component that runs on the device and a thin client library that you package with your app.” It also explained the services component is delivered through the Google Play Store, which means “updates to Google Play services are not dependent on carrier or OEM system image updates.” This also means devices running Android 2.2 and up will have access to the latest APIs for Google products through Google Play Store updates “within a few days.”

The rollout will cover all users on Android 2.2+ devices running the latest version of the Google Play store, and will take about a week to complete. Please wait for us to post that the rollout is complete before launching any apps on the store which use Google Play services… In the mean time, go grab the client library from Android SDK manager, check out our updated documentation, and start coding!

Google’s Tim Bray also highlighted in a blog post on the Android Developer’s blog that Google Play services provide OAuth 2.0 access to Android apps using Google APIs with a “good user experience and security”:
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Samsung: Galaxy Note 2 will sell three times faster than predecessor

At a press conference in Seoul today to welcome the release of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 in South Korea, Samsung’s J.K. Shin had some pretty bold predictions for how well the device will sell in the coming months. Bloomberg reported that, following the introduction and record debut weekend of 5 million units for the iPhone 5, Samsung expects the new Galaxy Note 2 to sell three times as many units as the original Note in the first three months. In December 2011, shortly after the introduction of the original Note in September at IFA 2011, Samsung announced it shipped 1 million units. However, at that time, the device had not hit the United States. By the end of February it had moved 2 million Galaxy Notes, and as of August of this year it hit the 10 million mark, reaching its earlier projections for 2012.  For the Galaxy Note II, Samsung expects to reach over 260 carriers in 128 markets and launch in the U.S. with five carriers in mid-November.

We got our first look at the new 5.5-inch device, sporting a redesigned S-Pen and upgraded internals, when it was unveiled at IFA in Berlin last month Read more

Barnes & Noble unveils new 7-inch Nook HD & 9.5-inch HD+ lineup starting at $199

On the heels of Amazon’s release of its new Kindle Fire HD lineup announced earlier this month, Barnes & Noble today launched a refreshed Nook tablet lineup consisting of the new Nook HD, and Nook HD+. Barnes & Noble’s old $249 Nook tablet is being replaced by two new models including a 7-inch Nook HD model starting at $199 and a 9.5-inch Nook HD+ model starting at $269.

NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ offer brilliant displays so customers can enjoy their favorite content and personal photos, not annoying ads as with Amazon’s tablets. And with low prices starting at $199 and $269 respectively, always ad-free NOOK tablets are a better value than Amazon’s, which charges customers an additional $15 for freedom from advertising offers on their tablet home page.

Starting with the Android 4.0-powered Nook HD, Barnes & Noble noted in its press release the device sports the highest resolution display of any 7-inch tablet “at 1440 x 900, with an unprecedented 243 pixels per inch and HD video playback of up to 720p.” Some of the other notable specs in the new device include a dual-core 1.3GHz TI OMAP 4470 processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB ($199) or 16GB ($229) of storage, and a weight of just 315 grams. The HD will be available in Snow and Smoke colors, and it is already up for pre-order at Barnes & Noble is promising 10.5-hours continuous reading time and 9 hours of video with the device’s 4,050mAh battery.

Moving on to the 9.5-inch, 1,920-by-1, 280-pixel Nook HD+: the new device includes 1.5GHz dual-core processor, Android 4.0, a 6,000mAh battery good for up to 10 hours of battery life, 1 GB of RAM, and 16GB ($269) or 32GB ($299) of onboard storage. It is also lightweight like the other model at just 515 grams, and it is up for pre-order at

Barnes & Noble plans to ship the new devices in October in at least the United Kingdom with both models hitting stores in early November.

The company also explained some changes its made to the interface in its press release (below) in addition to a ton of new content and features such as Nook Video. We also get a look at how the specs compare to Amazon’s Kindle lineup and Apple’s iPads:

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Google Play celebrates 25B downloads/675,000 apps milestone with ’25’ sale


Google just announced that it crossed the 25 billion downloaded app milestone and 675,000 apps are now in the Play store. By comparison, Apple has just over 750,000 apps in the App Store, as announced by CEO Tim Cook earlier this month at the iPhone 5 launch, and over 30 billion app downloads as of WWDC in June.

With Google’s larger market share and fast-growing Play Store, it seems like it will soon catch Apple in both of these metrics.

To celebrate the milestones, Google is having a $.25 sale on popular games from big name companies and “25” sales on movies, books and music:

Every day you’ll be able to choose from a collection of apps from some of the world’s top developers including Gameloft, Electronic Arts, Rovio, runtastic, Full Fat and more.  And all for just 25 cents. We’ll also be offering some special collections like 25 movies you must own, 25 banned books, 25 albums that changed the world and our 25 top selling magazines, all at special prices. Visit Google Play a little later today to check them out.

Google also recently announced that it passed the 500 million Android device milestone and it is activating 1.3 million Android devices a day. Some perspective on 25 Billion:

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Google Streetview goes underwater to document the Great Barrier Reef

This is really cool:

Starting today, you can use Google Maps to find a sea turtle swimming among a school of fishfollow a manta ray and experience the reef at sunset—just as I did on my first dive in the Great Barrier Reef last year. You can also find out much more about this reef via the World Wonders Project, a website that brings modern and ancient world heritage sites online.

At Apo Island, a volcanic island and marine reserve in the Philippines, you can see anancient boulder coral, which may be several hundred years old. And in the middle of the Pacific, in Hawaii, you can join snorkelers in Oahu’s Hanauma Bay and drift over the vast coral reef at Maui’s Molokini crater.

Prepare to waste a fair bit of time exploring for turtles, fish, and other creatures on the reefs. Suddenly the 360-degree views of your neighborhood are not so interesting.

Gmail and down or slow for many users (back up)

Many users are reporting a number of issues in Gmail and with the services either being slow or temporarily inaccessible. Google’s App Status website indicates a service disruption for only Gmail as of 4:20 p.m. today. Google said it is investigating the reports, and it will provide more information shortly. We will keep you posted when services is back to normal.

Update: Things appear to be back up and Google confirms the outage was brief, affected .35% of users and things are back to normal.