Former Google [X] director and head of Glass Babak Parviz joins Amazon

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Google X director Babak Parviz founded and led both the Google Glass and contact lens projects at Google, but it appears he has now left the Mountain View corporation in favor of Amazon. This news comes shortly after just two months ago stepping aside to let former Old Navy and Gap marketing VP Ivy Ross take the Google Glass helm.

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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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Google could soon face big fines over iOS Safari privacy controversy in FTC investigation

In February, the story broke that Google and other advertising companies were bypassing iOS Safari’s privacy settings and continuing to track users without their consent. Google quickly disabled its code responsible for the tracking after a story from The Wall Street Journal published, and Apple then claimed it was “working to put a stop” to the issue.

Now, a new report from Mercury News claimed the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is considering whether to fine Google over the incident. The decision is expected in the next 30 days:

The Federal Trade Commission is deep into an investigation of Google’s actions in bypassing the default privacy settings of Apple’s (AAPL) Safari browser for Google users, according to sources familiar with ongoing negotiations between the company and the government… Within the next 30 days, the FTC could order the Mountain View search giant to pay an even larger fine in the Safari case than the penalty the Federal Communications Commission hit Google with Friday, say the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The report is referring to Google being recently fined $25,000 by the FCC after it allegedly “deliberately impeded and delayed” an investigation related to Street View cars. The heart of the Safari bypassing investigation is whether the company is violating a previous privacy agreement made with the FTC following controversy over the failed “Buzz” service. The report claimed Google could face up to $16,000 per violation per day for violating the agreement. Google said to Mercury News today it would “cooperate with any officials who have questions” and explained making its +1 compatible on mobile Safari created the issue:

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Google patent outlines phone call spying for personalized ad serving


With Microsoft and numerous regulatory bodies nipping at Google’s heels and decrying the Internet giant of shady advertising practices and loose privacy standards, one would think the Mountain View, Calif.-based Company might lie low for a while.

Well, that is not the case: The Next Web reported on a Google patent today that introduced technology for analyzing the environmental conditions (or background sound) of phone calls. The action would essentially allow Google to exhibit advertisements based on the clamor its science heard.

The patent, called “Advertising based on environmental conditions,” described how the method recognizes signal outputs from environmental conditions using a sensor coupled with the remote device (such as a smartphone). Google would then serve personalized ads based on the data gathered. In other words, if Google noticed a NASCAR race in the background of a phone call, it would then promptly offer ads for motor sports…

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Google reportedly spending $120M to beef up Googleplex, ‘Google/@home’ testing labs

The “Googleplex” has been Google’s hallmark offices for years and rates as one of the top places to work by many magazines. According to a new report from the Mercury Times, Google is expanding on its already large Googleplex. The Mountain View, Calif.-based Company reportedly plans to spend $120 million to add new advancements to its sprawling headquarters, from a new museum to new testing labs for the secret Google X projects.

Google plans to open a new Experience Center as a museum not open to the public. The Experience Center would show Google’s history to special invited groups. Some of the products shown off could potentially be confidential. The focus here would be selling products to groups, such as school districts.

There has been much in the news lately regarding Google’s “Project X.” In Project X, the team is reportedly working on new HUD glasses, which we exclusively told you last month. As part of its new $120 million addition, Google is attaching new additions to that sector. Google is also adding to its “Google/@home” initiative. As part of @home, Google is reportedly developing a new streaming home-entertainment device. This break through into consumer electronics could be announced tomorrow, according to a teaser from the Google TV team.

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Undergraduates attend week long Android Camp

Undergraduate students from universities across the U.S. and Canada spent a week at Android Camp, Google’s “Android Development 101″ course. The program was somewhat like an internship. Students, most of which who are in school for computer science, spent the week at Google’s Mountain View campus and got hands-on help from engineers. Students were assigned teams and began to hammer away at creating an Android app. Google notes a few of the applications developed:

At the end of the week, each group presented its application to other Android campers and Google engineers. Applications spanned a variety of categories: recipeBEAR provides people with a list of meal recipes based on ingredients they have on hand; Blazin’ Contacts uses QR codes to automatically collect contact information from a large group of people and input it into your mobile device; OnTime combines Google Maps with the device’s alarm to help people gauge how much time they’ll need to arrive somewhere; The Shake Race, as you may imagine, was the most entertaining of the bunch—group members demonstrated the game by shaking their Xoom Tablets furiously to race their characters across the screen.

This new program is going to be annual for college freshman and sophomores. Sign-ups for next year’s camp will go up in November. Read more

Google to build new 600,000 square feet dream office for Nooglers near Shoreline Boulevard


A microkitchen inside Google’s corporate headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Google, which employs 26,000 people, will hire more new employees this year than ever before. It doesn’t come as a surprise then that the company is about to build its own office space, something they have never done before. According to MercuryNews.com, the company will spare no expenses to build a 600,000 square feet of office space for its rookie employees affectionately called Nooglers. This compares to the 4.3 million square feet in total for their Mountain View headquarters, with 65 buildings stretching along more than a mile of Charleston Road. It’ll be custom build from the ground up and Google will employ some cutting-edge green designs, too….

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