Google’s first Ara Developers’ Conference coming April 15-16 alongside Ara Module Dev Kit

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Project Ara, the modular phone project announced by Motorola’s ATAP team last year, will be getting its own developer conference this April. Google announced the event on the Project Ara website (via AndroidPolice) and noted that a live stream with “interactive Q&A capability” will be available online for those that can’t attend. The conference will take place at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View and Google says there will be a limited number of attendees. The event will focus heavily on a new Ara Module Developers’ Kit that will be released online in early April: Read more

Google’s 20 Percent Time – birthplace of Gmail, Google maps & Adsense – now effectively dead

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One of the cornerstones of Google’s reputation for innovation – its 20% Time scheme – is now effectively gone, according to a report by Quartz, citing anonymous Google employees.

Google’s 20% Time allowed engineers to spend the equivalent of one day a week working on a personal project without having to justify it to anyone. Gmail, Google maps, Adsense, Google Talk and many other products were born from this scheme. Adsense alone is responsible for around 25 percent of Google’s annual revenue.

Now, says the report, it is all but dead …  Read more

Jelly Bean now on 10 percent of all Android handsets worldwide, as Gingerbread’s share falls

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The latest numbers from Android’s Current Distribution page reveal somewhat exciting results for the folks in Mountain View. Android 4.1 – 4.2 Jelly Bean has now crossed the 10 percent threshold for all Android devices on the market. It now sits at 10.2-percent. Additionally, Gingerbread has dropped below the 50 percent mark for the first time in over a year, as Ice Cream Sandwich made gains to get close to 29.1-percent total share. Maybe this is how things should have always been. But, at any rate, sales from the Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC One X, and more seem to be paying off.

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Google invests in state lobbying to make markets for driverless cars of the future (Video)

The Wall Street Journal just published a lengthy report detailing how Google convinced Nevada state assemblywoman Marilyn Dondero Loop, as well as other states’ transportation committees, to introduce legislation that would help legalize its driverless cars for streets.

“This will save taxpayers countless millions of dollars and revolutionize driving as we know it. No more being distracted, no more accidents, and not another DUI attorney again.”

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company persuaded lawmakers, according to The Wall Street Journal, with “demonstrations and rides in its exotic cars,” and it subsequently earned “legislative wins” in Nevada, California, and Florida. There are even bills pending before legislators in Hawaii, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and the District of Columbia:

In the process, the Mountain View, Calif., company is building its credentials as an astute political operator. Google has been “pretty savvy” at navigating state capitols, said Frank Douma, a transportation-policy author and associate director at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. With its self-driving cars, Google “knew what they were doing by moving forward in Nevada” before approaching bigger states, he said. “If you blow it in the first state, you’ve really got problems.”

Success at legalizing self-driving car technology has broader implications for Google. Skills learned from lobbying state lawmakers could aid other endeavors that will require local policy-making, including the potential expansion of its Google Fiber Internet and TV service into markets dominated by cable companies.

Google spent roughly $9 million during the first and second quarters of 2012 lobbying in Washington and coaxing lawmakers and U.S. Department of Transportation officials, but Google did not disclose how much went toward lobbying state officials.

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Google reportedly close to buying social startup Meebo for roughly $100M

Google is reportedly close to buying social startup Meebo at roughly $100 million, AllThingsD reported this evening. Citing “two sources familiar with the matter,” the publication said the deal is close to going down.

Meebo launched in 2005 and has had many products over the years like a web-based and smartphone-based IM client and a tool bar that can be loaded on websites to provide readers with social links. These types of toolbars can be found on TMZ, TV Guide, and more. Most recently, the startup launched a new homepage that lets you “create an interest profile to get new and timely information about the things that matter to you.”

Over the years, the Mountain View, Calif.-based (how fitting) startup raised $60 million in funding to date. It most recently raised a monster round of $25 million from Khosla Ventures in 2010.

If the acquisition goes through, Google will most likely use the team and technology to boost its social network/heavy Facebook competitor Google+. More recently, Google bought out Digg-founder Kevin Rose and his team of employees from their endeavor called “Milk.” Rose and his former team are currently assigned to work on Google+, which we expect to be the same fate for the Meebo team.

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