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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Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 hits Verizon on March 1 for $499

Samsung announced in a press release this morning that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, also known as the “world’s thinnest 4G LTE tablet,” would land in Verizon stores March 1 for $499 on the typical two-year commitment. In case you do not remember the 7.7-inch tablet originally introduced at CES, the device packs a Super AMOLED Plus display, Android 3.2, 16GB of user storage (up to 32 via microSD), a 3.2-megapixel main camera with LED (2-megapixel front camera), and a 1.4 GHz dual-core processor. Samsung’s claim of being the “world’s thinnest” tablet comes from the device’s 7.8mm thin profile. AndroidCommunity reported the device would cost $699 without the two-year agreement, but there was no mention in today’s announcement.

The full press release is after the break. Read more

YouTube enhances captions with new features, languages, formatting choices

YouTube is bringing new capabilities to its popular captioning feature, according to today’s blog post by the search engine giant. The company added Japanese, Korean, and English language to auto-captioning and transcript synchronization features. Captions and subtitles are now supported in 155 different languages. Movies and Shows information finally show available subtitle languages, and users can now search for memorable quotes in closed captions.

This is accomplished by adding “, cc” to any search or clicking Filter > CC after searching to only see results with closed captions. The CC icon in the bottom-right of the video player now lets you change the font size or colors for captions. YouTube now supports broadcast captions for precise positioning and styling (check out this demo) in various industry formats, such as .SCC, .CAP, EBU-STL and closed captions created for TV or DVDs or those in MPEG-2 files with CEA-608 encoding…

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Grab your official MWC Android app now

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If you are not attending the Mobile World Congress 2012 show now underway in Barcelona, Spain until March 1 but want to stay on top of the latest trends in mobile, worry not as Google just released the official MWC app for Android devices. Called “Android MWC” and available as a free download from Android Market, this useful little program lets you check out Google Mobile apps featured at the show, retrieve information on the company’s featured partners and events, browse booth and partner maps, check out videos, use the Android Pin checklist to keep track of your Android pins and more.

Release notes are after the break.

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Samsung amps up Galaxy message with exclusive Angry Birds deal

Samsung Electronics joined forces with Angry Birds maker Rovio in a partnership that will see the two companies market Samsung’s mobile devices and Rovio’s upcoming game Angry Birds Space. A new trailer released featuring Angry Birds Space on Samsung’s Galaxy Note ahead of the game’s official launch announcement on March 8. Angry Birds Space is due to hit iOS, Android, PC, and Mac on March 22.

It is interesting that Rovio also partnered with NASA for rights to use its famous Moon landing footage in an Angry Birds Space teaser (included after the break). The deal is a nice fit for the South Korean consumer electronics conglomerate that rose to become the leading Android vendor. Samsung is also looking to expand its presence in the gaming space, if a patent filing discovered by Patent Bolt is anything to go by.

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Google offers up $1 million to hackers that can pwn2own Chrome

Chrome expected to pass IE in the summer according to StatCounter

Google’s Chrome is yet to have been hacked at the annual Pwn2Own conference but that might be because it has flown under the radar for so long.  With its market share now approaching Microsoft Internet Explorer for the lead the global browser war, Chrome now has a bigger target on its back.

Still though, Google wants hackers to try to find vulnerabilities in Chrome and more importantly disclose them to Google and is now offering big rewards to anyone who can crack Chrome.

Originally, our plan was to sponsor as part of this year’s Pwn2Own competition. Unfortunately, we decided to withdraw our sponsorship when we discovered that contestants are permitted to enter Pwn2Own without having to reveal full exploits (or even all of the bugs used!) to vendors. Full exploits have been handed over in previous years, but it’s an explicit non-requirement in this year’s contest, and that’s worrisome. We will therefore be running this alternative Chrome-specific reward program. It is designed to be attractive — not least because it stays aligned with user safety by requiring the full exploit to be submitted to us. We guarantee to send non-Chrome bugs to the appropriate vendor immediately.

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ZTE vies for No. 3 vendor spot in global handset market, hopes new devices will lead the charge

ZTE Corporation wants one of the top three vendor spots in the global handset market by 2015, and the firm is challenging leaders in the market with a range of handsets and tablets announced at the “Mobile World Congress 2012” event in Barcelona.

According to a recent study, industry analyst Gartner ranked ZTE as No. 4 for world handset shipments in Q4 2011, and ZTE smartphone sales are accelerating faster than any other vendor—aside from Apple, of course.

“Our long-term goal for the Terminals Division is to achieve a compound growth rate of above 40 percent per year for five consecutive years from 2010, and to become one of the top three vendors in the global handset market by 2015,” said ZTE EVP and Head of the Terminals Division Mr. He Shiyou in a press release

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Showdown: Android Voice Actions on Motorola phones vs. Siri on iPhone 4S

Handset maker Motorola Mobility may have found itself in an uneasy place as both Microsoft and Apple are attempting to block its $12.billion sale to Google, but the company’s marketing department is as vigorous as ever. With this week’s spotlight on the latest mobile developments showcased at Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, Spain, the Razr-maker published three provocative clips on its YouTube channel.

The videos pit the iPhone 4S-exclusive Siri feature against Android Voice Actions running on three different handsets: The Atrix 2, Photon 4G and Electrify. In each instance, Siri runs notably slower (and therefore less useful) than Android Voice Actions on Motorola’s devices.

Both Android Voice Actions and Siri need a network connection to upload audio samples of spoken queries. The cloud does the rest–speech recognition, parsing your query and beaming down the results. With that said, the performance gap that these clips highlight stems from the faster 4G networking on Motorola’s devices and has little to do with the type of processor, the amount of memory and other hardware features.

Two more clips are right below.

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LG ‘Lobbying Google’ to be next Nexus Partner

LG is lobbying Google to score a collaborating partnership on the next Nexus device.

“We’re having discussions,” said head of LG’s smartphone division Ramchan Woo to CNET in an interview. “We’re working on it.”

Garnering the honor would gain LG an ounce of prestige in the mobile industry, because the handset maker would have absolute access to Google’s offerings. Even if the financial benefits are on the low-end for LG, the company will inevitably surface with an impeccable reputation after working with the Mountain View, Calif.-based technology giant…

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Qualcomm updates Snapdragon S4 chip with four times faster Adreno 320 graphics, outs three new Gobi modem chipsets supporting both 150Mbps LTE-Advanced and 84Mbps HSPA+

Chip maker Qualcomm today introduced three new Gobi modem chipsets at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain and an improved version of the Snapdragon S4 chip for high-end smartphones. The 28-nanometer third-generation MDM8225, MDM9225 and MDM9625 support both LTE-Advanced and dual-carrier 84Mbps HSPA+ Release 10 cellular networks (perhaps fitting in T-Mobile USA’s 2012 plan). If that’s not speedy enough: The MDM9225 and MDM9625 can go all the way up to 150Mbps, because they support LTE Category 4 with carrier aggregation technology.

All three pieces of silicon are backwards compatible with today’s popular standards, including EV-DO Advanced, GSM, TD-SCDMA, FDD and TDD. The MDM8225 chipset supports UMTS-only devices, the MDM9225 chipset supports LTE and UMTS devices, and the MDM9625 chipset supports LTE, UMTS and CDMA2000 devices. All three chipsets will begin sampling in Q4 2012. Compared to Qualcomm’s previous MDM9x15 series (see below the fold), the new chips offer a reduction in power consumption and overall board area that allow for smaller devices with longer battery life.

Qualcomm also launched today an improved version of the Snapdragon S4 system-on-a-chip that powers about 340 mobile devices. It has notably faster graphics, supports Windows 8, includes dedicated hardware to accelerate Windows and fully supports the top game engines in the industry from Unity, Epic and others.

More on the new Snapdragon S4 “Pro” chip and full press releases are after the break.

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