Sundar Pichai talks MVNO, Android Pay, Project Titan, more at Mobile World Congress

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Google SVP Sundar Pichai sat down with Bloomberg’s Brad Stone at the Mobile World Congress today in Barcelona, Spain, and as happens often, he had some pretty interesting things to say. Among other topics, the Chrome and Android lead at Google talked about the company’s goals for improving the world’s Internet connectivity through various projects (including the company’s MVNO plans), Google’s further mobile payment ambitions with Android Pay, how Android will tie into virtual reality, and more… Read more

Amid turbulence, Google Plus loses its latest leader – Horowitz again takes over

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TechCrunch:

…confirmed with Google, that David Besbris [above] has left his role as the head of the company’s social and identity product. He has been replaced by Bradley Horowitz, a longtime VP of product for Google+.

Google Plus seems to be in tumult and it sounds like it is being dismantled for its good parts including Photos and Hangouts. Perhaps the feed will turn into a more Twitter-like product. Who knows at this point—we’ll likely get a roadmap at Google I/O in May.

As for new lead Bradley Horowitz, he never really left Google+ through Vic Gundotra’s departure and will probably oversee the split of the units which are said to have already been reduced by half.

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Google’s Android and Chrome lead comments on Apple relationship, China, Google Play ads

Sundar Pichai

Google’s Sundar Pichai recently sat down with Forbes to talk about the Mountain View company’s ambitions in China, its relationship with Apple, and what its overall vision looks like. Some interesting quotes from Google’s Android and Chrome head have surfaced as a result, and among other comments, Pichai took a moment to respond to constant criticism from Apple that Google is in the business of monetizing its users. Pichai also touched on Google’s aspirations in China as well as the sponsored ad program it is testing in Google Play…

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Google has now paid Android developers $7B in past 12 months; testing sponsored app searches

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Google paid developers a total of $7B in the past 12 months from a mix of app sales and in-app purchases, the company says, closing in on the record $10B payout recently announced by Apple.

Re/code also reports that Google is testing sponsored searches in the Play Store, enabling developers to pay to have their apps show up at the top of searches. Sponsored Play Store searches will work in exactly the same way as they do in the company’s main search engine: developers bidding for keywords, with sponsored apps appearing above organic search results, flagged with a small Ad tag …

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WSJ: YouTube planning new ad-targeting system after earning $4B in 2014 without profit

youtube-croppedAccording to a new report out of The Wall Street Journal, Google’s YouTube unit posted a revenue of nearly $4 billion in 2014, but did not earn a profit of any kind. The $4 billion in revenue during 2014 is up from $3 billion in 2013. YouTube accounted for about 6 percent Google’s overall sales last year.

In an effort to remedy remaining unprofitable, YouTube is planning to launch a new ad-targeting system later this year, the WSJ says, though details remain unclear. …

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Google ups free song storage limit to 50,000 songs on Google Play

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If you’re a user of Google Play Music, you probably know that you can store your own music on Google’s servers for streaming from your various devices, but now Google has announced that the amount of songs that you can store for free has been increased, up to 50,000 songs from 20,000. While many of Google’s competitors charge for this kind of service, Google has long offered the ability to store several thousand songs for free—and now they’re upping the limit.

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Google’s Lunar XPrize competition will come down to 500-metre moon race between two robots

The two competing lunar robots, Astrobotic top, Hakuto bottom

The two competing lunar robots, Astrobotic top, Hakuto bottom

Google’s Lunar XPrize competition, to be the first team to take a robot to the moon, looks like it will come down to a head-to-head race between two competing robots–one American, one Japanese.

While five teams were awarded prizes for achieving key milestones along the way to the final goal, two of the robots appear set to get there first, jointly commissioning the same SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to carry them to the moon in the second half of 2016, with a race across the lunar surface determining the winner …  Read more

Google opens invite-based Inbox app to Google Apps for Work users

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Just days after Google’s Sundar Pichai announced the company’s new Inbox email app would arrive for Google Apps customers soon, today an invite system is launching to allow for exactly that.

Like the invite system that is currently being used to allow new users to download the Inbox email app, Google is today allowing Google Apps for Work admins to request service access for their users. Google said it will let in only select users that request access as it works to get feedback from early adopters and improve the experience:  Read more