Google’s new self-driving cars can now be spotted on Mountain View roads

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According to a recent post on Google+, Google’s new cute self-driving car prototypes are now driving the roads of Mountain View. As was mentioned previously, they’re taking some cues from how the company’s previous line of Lexus self-driving vehicles. This first run of a few of the new ‘Koala’ prototype will have a safety driver on board with a “removable” steering wheel, accelerator, and brake — just in case…

These prototype vehicles are designed from the ground up to be fully self-driving. They’re ultimately designed to work without a steering wheel or pedals, but during this phase of our project we’ll have safety drivers aboard with a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal that allow them to take over driving if needed. The prototypes’ speed is capped at a neighborhood-friendly 25mph, and they’ll drive using the same software that our existing Lexus vehicles use—the same fleet that has self-driven over 1 million miles since we started the project.

According to Google, the speed of the cars is currently capped at a pretty conservative 25 miles per hour, and they’re driving around at that “neighborhood-friendly” speed using the same software that powered the Lexus line. Ultimately, the goal is for them to be completely autonomous, but it would make sense that Google wants to take that slow to avoid any more sensationalized stories about their safety… Read more

Xiaomi to hold a press conference on February 12th in San Francisco

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Xiaomi is known as being the rising star in the smartphone arena, making its way past LG last year to become the third-largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world. The success of the company is to be blamed largely on its Chinese reception, as it hasn’t launched a single device on this side of the Pacific.

That said, Xiaomi is going to hold a press conference in San Francisco, California later this month (via Android Police), but don’t get too excited if you’re hoping to hear about a North American launch, as the company has already confirmed that that’s not happening…

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Google donates $2 million to three charities benefiting San Francisco’s homeless

Europe Antitrust Google

The city of San Francisco announced today that Google has made a $2 million donation to three charities benefiting the homeless. The money will go to Larkin Street Youth Services, Hamilton Family Center, and HandUp, according to a report from Mashable.

A full $1 million will go to the Hamilton Family Center, which locates homeless families through the public school system and helps them find a place to live.

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Google’s mysterious barge-based container buildings being sold for scrap

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Well, that was an anti-climax. After all kinds of speculation about why Google was building floating structures on a set of barges based in San Francisco and Portland, with Google finally revealing in not too much detail that they were to become “interactive spaces where people can learn about new technology,” it turns out that at least one of them is being sold for scrap.

The Portland Press Herald reports that the 250-foot Google barge that has been sitting in Portland Harbour since last October is now being sold and the container building sitting on it will be scrapped …  Read more

Samsung’s Developers Conference returns Nov. 11-13 at Moscone West in San Francisco

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Samsung announced today that its official Developers Conference is returning again this year and will kick off November 11 at Moscone West in San Francisco. Last year, Samsung held its first developer conference in San Francisco in October and showed off a number of new features for developers across its product lineups. That includes its Mobile SDK for Android, Smart TV SDK 5.0 Multiscreen Gaming SDK, Multiscreen SDK, and its KNOX Enterprise SDK beta that’s arriving this year natively in Android. This year Samsung makes a venue change to the Moscone West Center used by both Apple and Google for their developer conferences that took place earlier this year. Read more

Google reportedly planning to expand home delivery service Shopping Express nationwide

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Re/code piece on Google’s Shopping Express service says that the company is investing $500M to expand the service beyond San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City and roll it out nationally.

The service lets shoppers buy things from local retail stores through Google, which then delivers them to consumers from the physical retail store on the same or next day.

A source familiar with the company’s plans says senior Google execs have set aside as much as $500 million to expand the service nationwide …

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US Supreme Court rejects Google’s Street View case appeal

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The US Supreme Court rejected Google’s attempt to appeal a class-action lawsuit claiming the search giant violated federal wiretap laws when its Street View vehicles collected data from private WiFi networks. In 2010, Google said that it accidentally recorded data from unencrypted WiFi networks, stating it immediately grounded its cars and reached out to regulators to find out how to properly dispose of the information that it collected.

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Samsung announces its first Tizen phone, the Samsung Z – a hint of the future?

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About a year later than first expected, Samsung has finally announced its first smartphone running Tizen instead of Android, the Samsung Z.

While this particular handset is only launching in Russia initially (sometime in Q3), it’s notable in a couple of ways. First, the spec – while not cutting edge – is pretty decent. Powered by a 2.3GHz quad-core processor and 2GB RAM, it has a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display (though only in 1280×720 resolution) and the fingerprint sensor that has so far been exclusive to the S5. It’s not the low-end spec many had expected from Tizen …  Read more

Samsung Galaxy S5 goes on sale in 125 countries today, with kill-switch to keep it safe

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Samsung has announced that the Samsung Galaxy S5 goes on sale today in 125 countries, along with the new Gear smartwatches. It was already known that it would be launched today in the USA.

The new Galaxy S5 and the Samsung Gear devices – Samsung Gear 2, Samsung Gear 2 Neo, and Samsung Gear Fit – are ready to hit the market in 125 countries in Europe, Middle East, North America, Latin America, and most of Asia.

The S5 has a 5.1-inch full HD display which was declared “the best smartphone display ever tested” by DisplayMate. Other key features include a fingerprint sensor and heartrate monitor. Reviewers considered it an excellent phone, albeit lacking in excitement …  Read more